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The Inspiration for The Wolf of Tebron ~ Honoring Sweetie

For those who haven't heard of my Christian fairy tale called The Wolf of Tebron, (and that is many of you!), I would like to introduce you to "Sweetie," the basic inspiration for my fantasy novel who just passed away this year. I am especially fond of dogs, and I don't have to say anything more to you dog-lovers out there. Some of you don't know the deep joy that comes from having a furry, loyal companion who always cheers you up just by existing. That's an amazing gift, and I believe God intended it that way. Do you really think it is a coincidence that "dog" is "god" backwards? Well, at least in English...

What motivated me to write this novel was this: I love the idea of using fantasy as a vehicle to tell the redemption story of Christ. C.S. Lewis did it well for children in the Chronicles of Narnia, but I had a problem with Aslan, the lion. A big problem.

OK, we know he's not a tame lion, but he also rarely shows up in all the books of the series. He makes an occasional appearance, and yes, he does give his mortal life to save humanity. That's powerful. that's essential. But I felt it lacking, for the God I know isn't like that. He is, well, more like my dog, but better. I saw God as someone who stayed right by my side--through trials and joys, through fears and confusion. Watching over my while I sleep, keeping me fed and warm, and teaching me all along the way the things I need to know, even things I really don't want to know about myself. So that is Ruyah, my wolf. A timeless wizard accompanying Joran on his quest to rescue his wife from the clutches of the Moon.
At first Joran doesn't want to trust him or even be around him. But as the story progresses, Joran becomes quite attached and falls in love with this ponderous, funny, exasperating wolf who refuses to abandon Joran, even when ordered to. And in the end, the only way for Joran to survive the chaos at the shore of his dreams is for Ruyah to sacrifice his life. And not only that--Joran must kill him with his own hands.

I think, for me, that became so much more powerful a story. Because God is and does all those things for us. And there is some poignancy, if I could call it that, in imagining we wield the hammer and the nails to put Christ on the cross, that we have to strike a deliberate blow and claim responsibility for his death and embrace that pain in our own arms in order to welcome him into our hearts. The book has a happy ending, as do all fairy tales (or I should say most), but I won't do a spoiler here.

Here's one last cute image. When Lee and I were ready to pray thanks over dinner one evening by the TV, we bowed our heads and grabbed hands. And then we felt a paw rest on top of our grasp. There was Sweetie, head bowed, still and respectful while we said our prayer. I think her prayer was a little different and went something like this, "Wow, that chicken sure looks good and I really am so cute. Look at my thumping tail and soft, brown eyes. Surely there is a piece on your plates for me." The Bible does say that ALL creatures know their maker (Job 12:7-9). Is it possible that we humans are the only ones who haven't a clue?
I asked Sweetie and she said : "duh!"

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