I’ve always associated with wolves. I have always believed that the wolf was my spirit animal. I connected to their freedom of wandering through the woods, strong instincts of survival, and the fact that although they may wander alone, they are pack animals, always in need of that family. I could see myself as the wolf.
I’ve never really been one to pay to much attention to dreams, but there have been a few that have stuck with me throughout my journey. Last week I had one that I couldn’t get out of my thoughts:
I was running through the woods. I wasn’t afraid. I wasn’t chasing something. I was just running. I was me. Long hair. Beard. Naked. Human. But I wasn’t. To my right I could catch glimpses of shadows moving through the trees. They weren’t threatening, they just were. There was a sense of joy in the run, like the joy I once felt through Cross Country, when your legs hurt and that ‘runners high’ is just starting to kick in. And I noticed something. The shapes were wolves. Larger than life. Their shoulders coming up to mine. Their tongues panting. Steam rose with each breath. And one by one they faded. Some fell back into the distance. Others turned and ran in different directions.
And I slowed, finding myself alone in the woods. Snow covered the ground that smoldered beneath my feet. Smoke rose in the distance and I could smell the fires burning. Burned snags rose from the ground like broken limbs. And I saw a single flower at the base of a stump. A pink dash of color in a black and white world. I kneeled to cup it in my hand and a voice spoke, “The time for healing has come.”
I awoke confused. Unsure of what I had witnessed. What my mind was telling me. And I fell back to sleep. Then last night, I dreamed that I was a bear awakening from its slumber, entering a unknown world.
To be honest, I didn’t really think much of it until someone told me that I was like a bear.
Could I have been wrong? Wasn’t I the solitary wolf?
I’ve always known I was a wolf, but somehow I knew that something has changed. Some part of me knew that the wolf had departed. That the years of hunting and fighting with myself had ended.
While I’ve known the wolf, I always strived to be something else. I’ve always wanted to be a lion. The king of the beasts. The essence of strength and authority. Justice and Ferocity. Wisdom and Leadership. Dignity and Courage. Honor and self-confidence. Where the lion reminds us that each of us was born powerful and divine, calling us to step into our natural birthright of power, the wolf brought forth instinct, intelligence and the appetite for freedom. While they are similar, I knew I was never the lion. It just isn’t who I am.
Part of this desire comes from my childhood favorite, “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” where Mr Beaver speaks of Aslan:
“Safe? … Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he is good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
We all desire to be the lion. To possess the majesty of his power.
I started thinking this morning, wondering if I was truly ever the wolf. I believe I was. But that season has ended.
I never saw myself as a bear until I took a closer look. Heck, I even took one of the silly “What is Your Spirit Animal?” tests just to make sure. Sure enough, I got bear. The grounding spirit and guide to healing. The bear is a totem of strength and confidence, traditionally invoked to stand against adversity. He reminds us that there must be a time for healing and the importance of solitude, quiet time and rest.
Like the bear, I am a solitary creature. I like to be balanced. I find myself looking within for strength, fearlessness and confidence. Each provided by the God of love who has healed me and washed me clean. And when push comes to shove, I am willing to stand my ground for what I believe in.
During Mid-Year Review today, the Fellows praised me for my service and shared how I can improve in this journey. I am striving to continue to grow, to share my passion and pass on my experience to those around me. They reminded me that a leader doesn’t always need to be a lion. We also need wolves, eagles, buffalo, and bears.
And so I smile. And continue on this journey.