An allegorical story about shepherding our children away from online temptations.
If you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Proverbs 2:3, 5, 10
There once was a village in the highlands. The air was crisp, the sun was warm, and the heather’s purple glory danced with every breezy Zypher. It was an idyllic community, where the families would gather and share from their bounty, the children were free to roam the hilly country, and there was a peace that settled into the sweetness of each home.
Until one day, when a shout ran out. A child had been injured while at play, and came home telling of an unfamiliar animal they had seen on the hills. It had been large, ominously gray, with a tail as long as the child himself. Its snout was pointed, as were its ears, and its teeth were both menacing and intriguing. Across its back were long, red scars, running from his shoulders to his flank. In curiosity, the child had clambered onto a boulder in order to see this new creature better and, as the beast had been about to strike, the child had slipped off the high rock and tumbled off the mound. Hearing the scattering of rocks, many had rushed towards the child, and the animal had loped off.
The child’s mother, hearing the story, realized at once that her son had seen a wolf, and she dressed her child’s wounds with a different care. For the tumble had saved him from a far worse plight, and she realized that his fall had saved his future.
Now wolves were not unfamiliar to the villagers. They knew of the animal’s existence, and though the parents were always mindful of dangers that may ensnare their children, they had not realized that this particular threat was a present one. There had been many different wolves in past generations, and the villagers had worked together to hunt and slay each they knew of, but this wolf was sly, and unkillable, and seemed intent on targeting the young children more than the elders.
The mother called an assembly of the wise parents of the village and told them of the danger which had come to her family. Alarmed, they poured over the chronicles of the King’s Wisdom, and created a plan to safeguard their children, the very next morning setting about erecting a fence around their village. This was not a very tall fence, as height was not necessary, for this wolf was one of convenience, and never breached a boundary on his own. The only time the wolf would cross the perimeter would be if there was a break in the wall, and the villagers determined that a short fence would serve them well.
So the fence was built. Only as tall as a child’s chest, it was not a scar to the scenery, but merely an accent to the beauty of the hills. The villagers were proud of their work, knowing rightly that the wolf would not cross that line of protection. The children had watched the building process and were warned not to leave the protected area without the watchcare of their parent, who would know the signs of danger and would be able to bring a playing child home before any harm might befall him.
The fence worked. The protective ring allowed for children to play without fear, and parents to rest in their childrens’ fun. And the wolf stayed out. For as long as the fence was in place there was no entry for the beast.
But the child who had first seen the wolf was intrigued by what he did not know. His mama would often see him holding the slats of the fence, leaning his head over the edge in hopes of viewing the wolf again. The mother reminded him of the danger beyond the fence, and pleaded with him to respect the boundary, and he agreed. He understood that the wolf was indeed a threat, but still his curiosity was strong, and he didn’t understand the workings of the beast. He was convinced that he only wanted to understand, not experience the rage of the wolf, and so, day after day, he would run to the fence and stare out to the far edge of the hills.
Until looking for the wolf was no longer enough. One evening, when his family was busily preparing dinner, the boy snuck to the fence and pulled away a slat. He peered through the hole, hoping for a sight of the wolf. He was not disappointed. Within moments the yellow eyes of the beast were hovered only a few paces away. The boy looked at the wolf, at its girth and muscled forelegs, and was sure that the portion of fence he had torn down was small enough to keep the wolf out while still giving him the opportunity to learn more about it. But the fence was broken. And a broken boundary invites the wolf more than any other lure.
The boy was fascinated. The glowing eyes floated closer and the boy soon found himself unable to look away. What he had not known before was that the captivating nature of the wolf would render its victim unable to pull himself from their hold. Closer and closer the wolf crept, until its snout was nearly touching the boy’s nose, the breath from their nostrils mingling in a steamy plume in the chilling night. Unable to move, the boy was trapped looking into the wolf’s golden eyes and, as he was immobilized, the wolf reached out with a single claw and pulled it across the boy’s shoulders, and down to the child’s waist. The boy did not feel pain, but still his body trembled, reacting to the vile intrusion. Again and again the wolf tore the boy’s flesh in long, deliberate strips, and though the child did not yet feel pain the wounds were real and harsh. The more he stared in the wolf’s eyes, the more he was trapped by their gaze, and the less he was inclined to move away.
There was a scream of agony as the boy’s mother became aware of the danger her child was in. She grabbed up the fence board and threw it into place, breaking the wolf’s hold on the boy. She caught her son as he fell back, and she wept with fierce tears and she brought him home to tend his wounds. He still did not feel the pain, and did not believe that they needed to be cared for. This made his mother weep all the more, realizing that the wounds had already sealed into scars. She mourned for how the wounds would affect his growth, his ability to learn, his future hopes and dreams and relationships, and for how each scar would encourage her child to inflict similar wounds on others. It was then that she realized that, with each scar, her child was broken into more and more the likeness of the wolf. And her heart broke more.
There was an emergency village meeting and the counsel unanimously agreed to begin work immediately to reinforce the fence. Not out of fear of the wolf, but out of fear that their children would not respect the boundary.
So a new fence was built. Rather than a beautiful, low fence allowing for a view of the countryside, there was erected a tall wall of stone. There was no access through the barrier, save for a small doorway, which was guarded at all times. The parents each took turns as constant gate keepers, only giving outside access to children if accompanied by a guardian. The door was both guarded and locked in the night hours, and, though the restrictions felt harsh, the village was safe.
As time went on and the wall was respected for the safety it offered, there were windows placed along its length. More time passed and the children grew in wisdom. With that wisdom came a greater understanding of the dangers of the wolf, the impact of the scars, and joy in respecting the boundary.
With the greater respect came the greater freedom, and the wall was eventually taken down and replaced by another fence. Taller than the first one, but then again, the children were taller, too. All could look about and appreciate the beauty around them. All could explore and go adventuring, for they had been trained in how to detect and avoid the wolf.
The fence was never taken down, but remained around the village as a fixed aspect of the community. As each child grew into adulthood and started their own families they would guard closely the wall by their homes. They trained their children to love the wall for its safety and perimetered freedom. They trained their children to know the dangers of the wolf and to avoid its ensnaring glance. And they trained their children to mourn over the wounds the wolf had made on the negligent and belligerent, and how to guard themselves from the wounds delivered by those who were scarred.
The wolf would one day be completely be vanquished. His conquering would come not from the village, but from the King, who also heals all scars in His timing. While the villagers waited patiently for total freedom without boundaries, they thrived in the safety and wholeness that was afforded by the wall.
And the boy? As he grew the scars would continue to plague him, and would quietly encourage him to wound others. But as he respected the wall, and obeyed the king, the scars hurt less, and their initial shame instead pointed to the beauty of the wall. For though it is far better to avoid the wolf, the boy’s scars served as a testimony of pain, and in knowing the pain of consequences, the boy was all the more diligent in teaching his own children to beware the wolf, and respect the wall.