Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Ever Watchful One

     A number of years ago, I had an exciting adventure meeting wolves face to face. Always found the creatures fascinating, so when the opportunity arrived, I was all over that.
     It was a sloppy spring. Mud season as we call it in Colorado. Snow still remained in large patches in the forest at the 9,000 foot elevation. The driveway into the wolf sanctuary was in tough shape after the long hard winter, so walking in from the main road our only choice.
     Having been invited, my friend and I made our way over the muddy, sticky ruts down the hill to the main house. Our hiking boots slurped and slooped as we pulled our feet through the mess.
     All the while we walked, we were watched. We sort of felt it before we saw it. "Lobo" (fitting name) a white wolf kept a vigil from a distance. His long, white legs paced across the hill behind the trees as much as he could keep himself "hidden".
Ever mindful of each step we took, each movement we made, each sound uttered (ever so quietly on our part).  We knew he was there, so we kept one eye in the direction of the wild animal, the other eye manuevering around the slop. You never heard his steps, but you couldn't mistake the warning he sent out of intruders invading his territory.
     Wild may not be the best term for Lobo. Living in fenced in acreage, it limits the wild. But he was his own wolf. The Alpha, the one in control, the one in charge. I had no problem allowing him his self-imposed supremacy.
     We met the woman that ran the sanctuary at the bottom of the hill. A hearty handshake welcomed us warmly for our day to learn about wolves.
     She pointed out that a pure wolf has a very flat forehead. The area from the top of its head down the nose has very little drop like a dog does. Also the tail of a true wolf is flat without the friendly little curl we are used to seeing on a canine.
     Wolves and hybrids came to this sanctuary when injured or owners decided they no longer want them. Many of the animals there were Mexican Grays. Also Eastern Timbers and Reds.
     Camera in tow, I was perfectly happy to shoot them through the fencing. This was back in the day of regular film.
     The owner soon told me I was welcome to enter the pen with instruction on MY behavior. My heart began this flapjack flippin' thing, but I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity of a lifetime.
     She opened the gate, we entered slowly, cautiously, guarding our every move.
     The Mexican Grays were most leary of us. The darkest one paced nervously at these intruders of his space. Back and forth, never taking his eyes off of us.

At that point, kneeling seemed to lessen the intimidation felt by the animal.
Never had I experienced such excitement, exhilaration, adrenaline coursing through my veins, all the while doing everything I could to push any fear far down into a part of my being that could not be detected by the wolves. I hoped.
     I knelt there snapping away when one of these magnificent animals moved in close. No, not for the kill! For a lick!

     Now, I like to think that he got comfortable with me and knew I wasn't a threat. Hopefully, he wasn't tasting me. Either way, I felt something that day. A trust between two creatures. A moment of contact with an animal feared for generations. An animal that some would rather see eradicated. One of God's creations.
     In the distance, we could still see Lobo silently but rapidly pacing the forest. Watching over his domain. Waiting.
     Looking back on this adventure, it reminds me of something far greater. SomeONE far greater who watches over me, keeps His guard up for me, but He doesn't have to pace nervously. He calmly watches, guides my steps, directs my path. Do I slow down long enough to listen for directions? I hope so. The last thing I want to do is run willy-nilly into the face of danger.
     Take time to see what God has made. Experience it. Don't allow fear to hold you back from what could rank as one of your most memorable adventures!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
Lean not on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him
And He will direct your path!
Proverbs 3:5-6

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