A wolf ran by today. Out on the frozen lake, in the dim, gray light that precedes the dawn he trotted, solitary. What was his mission, leaving the wilderness toward civilization?
Our house lies on the dividing line between neighborhoods and the places where wild things live. The stream that feeds our lake shelters ducks, otters, muskrat and beaver. Above it is a favorite perch for bald eagles.
Frequently the wild ones cross over into our yard. One time a beaver chewed down some of our trees. Another time it was a bear, breaking our bird feeder and flinging it across the yard, metal bent and twisted from his hunger. Always there are deer, nibbling at our crabapple tree, bedding down in the lot beside ours, standing defiant in the flowerbeds as we pull into the driveway.
Sometimes the wild things hurry through on their way to someplace else, like the porcupine waddling by my window or the bear cub stopping to sniff at our fire ring. Or the wolf, running silently beyond the shore in the cold.
I, too, live on that line dividing safety and risk, routine and adventure, my ordered life and wilderness. I think we all do, in ways big and small. Will we risk painful honesty in a relationship, or stay in the safety of silence? Will we fill out that application, or stay in the comfort of routine? Will we lay our hearts out there one more time? Will we dream, or will we act?
“Follow Me,” an itinerant rabbi called out to the fishermen. And they left their nets to follow Him into the unknown. Surely those nets offered a familiar identity. A place to belong. Provision. But still, they followed. What nets am I mending today instead of following Him?
The wilderness demands some things that I’m not sure I’m ready to give. It is not safe. The way bends through the trees, hidden from the safety of my yard. Where will it lead? Perhaps the wilderness itself is the destination and I must learn to adapt to its challenges and in the adapting, grow.
I sense the call to explore; to risk. I peer through the trees, find a trail. Take one step, then another into the shelter of the woods, trusting the One who makes a way for me.