The Book of Bandit ch 4 – A bedtime Story

The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. – Isaiah 11:6 –

A bedtime story for Bandit – citations for my embellishments and source material at the bottom –

A Bedtime story… for my dog

It’s the tale of a time when a very bad dog, met a very good man… and God used it to change the world?

Once upon a time… there was a wolf. He was an old wolf… already seven years at least, and he was alone. We don’t know why he was alone, or how he got kicked out of his pack… maybe he ate them! We just know that he stalked the forest, farms, orchards, and grassy hills of Italy, alone, and unchallenged. And in his ravenous and violent journeys he had found ample and abundant food in Gubbio, Italy.

Now, Bandit, this was a European wolf, a little over 200 years before part of your breed, the schnauzer, was created in Germany. You know how hungry you get in the afternoon, and how you search the house for secret food… well…

This wolf didn’t search, he hunted, propelled by the hunger that lived forever within him. It pulled at his stomach, gnawed at the inside of his bones, it made him shift and move… he was restless. The hunger made his mouth water, and sharpened his fangs. This wolf was enormous, gorging himself every day he could. He could chase rabbits like you, but really they were just a mouthful. This wolf could take down deer, and boar, and he could do it on his own. Without a pack.

And… sometimes he would hunt other food. Sometimes he would even eat the people that walked along the road! Pouncing on them with a ferocious and rabid snarl as some ran away, but others… became dinner.

Is this too much for you buddy? It’s not too scary is it?

OK, we’ll keep going…

The people in the town of Gubbio began to fight the wolf. They would travel with weapons, with spears and swords. But the wolf, as we said, was old and those weapons were not new to him. He had learned how to fight with armed men… and how to win! And he always won. And then he ate them!

So the people pulled back into the town, shut the gates, and stayed behind their walls while the old wolf prowled the land about the city, always hungry… always hunting… nothing could challenge him.

Until one sunny day, the gates opened, and a man walked out.

He was different, the wolf could tell this already. His tunic was poor and simple, cinched with a dirty old rope. He wore no shoes and had a small crowd following him. The people stopped though after just a few paces and stayed behind. They were armed… the man was not.

He walked straight to the wolf’s cave, like he knew exactly where it was. The wolf watched for a moment, but the hunger seized him again, and this was such an easy meal. His mouth opened, his lips curled back, and his sharp fangs led the way as he ran, snarling at his intended breakfast!

The man did not run, scream, fight, or do anything any of the other people the wolf had eaten had ever done… he just held out his hand, and drew a line in the air, tall, top to bottom, and another line crossing it at the top, a simple cross in the air, and…

A miracle happened… The all-consuming hunger that pulled at his insides and gnawed at his bones… just disappeared. His lips uncurled and folded back over his teeth. His mouth closed and the snarls stopped. He was… not hungry anymore. And so, the wolf stopped and sat down and stared at this odd man.

And another miracle happened. The man spoke and the wolf understood. “Brother wolf…” the man said. “Come to me, Brother Wolf. In the name of Christ, I order you not to hurt me or anyone.”

And so, the wolf did.

The man spoke again to the wolf, and again the wolf understood. “Brother Wolf, you have done great harm in this region, and you have committed horrible crimes…” And the wolf heard, and knew it was true, and bowed its head. In following his hunger, he had made the whole town his enemy.

“But, Brother Wolf, I want to make peace between you and them…” The man asked the wolf to never harm another animal or man, and he promised that the villagers of the town would feed him every day. And he asked the wolf for a pledge and held out his hand.

The old wolf, seeing that the man was good, no, not just good… holy. And seeing that the pledge was real… he put out his right paw and placed it in the man’s hand. And when the man asked him to walk into town, the wolf followed. He repeated the pledge in the town square for all to see, he even rolled over, to gasps of the citizens. And he curled up at the man’s feet as the man preached to the crowd about the goodness of God, and how if God can rescue them from this wolf… God can rescue them from their sins.

Did you know, Bandit. That the old wolf lived for two more years?

“And… he walked freely through the town. He could stop at any house and patiently wait, and the villagers would feed him until he was full. Every single day!

A vision of peace, and the rescue of God padded through the streets of Gubbio for two whole years. And everywhere he walked, instead of bringing fear, like he had done for all of his life. The old wolf brought peace, and joy, and wonder, and he loved every day of it.

He was evidence of a miracle that lasted in town well after the man… St. Francis of Assisi… left to minister in other places.

And Bandit, when that wolf died, did you know that those townspeople were sad? Very sad. And they built a church right where the cave the wolf used to live was. And in that church, which they gave St. Francis’s name to, in that church there is a tomb. A tomb for a beloved wolf who experienced a miracle, and who spent the rest of his life reminding people of the goodness of God.

Sources:

  • The original version of the story is not told from the wolf’s perspective. It’s section 21 of The Little Flowers of St Francis. It’s called How St. Francis tamed the very fierce wolf of Gubbio. I own Raphael Brown’s translation, which uses both the Latin and Italian to bring forward a beautiful English version. It’s great reading!
  • The church is called San Francesco of Gubbio and is very searchable if you want to find good pictures of it.
  • I based my wolf-stats on the Eurasian Wolf, a subspecies of the Grey Wolf which can absolutely be found in Europe. My access to usable wolf photos is limited, so I just had to go with “a picture of a wolf” even though the scientist in me wanted to be more accurate.
  • I chose Isaiah’s prophecy of the peaceful kingdom in chapter 11 (a small part of a much larger prophecy) to start this devotion, because it talks about the impact of the presence of Christ on the very natural world. There’s a touch of Eden in the imagery used at the beginning of chapter 11.
  • And yes, Bandit loves listening to people read outloud, and that’s him in his favorite listening spot.

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