Saturday, March 25, 2017

Among the Wolves

I read this gem, tucked among the words of Louise Penny in her novel The Beautiful Mystery which takes place in a monastery in the wilderness of  North Eastern Quebec, Canada:

“I hope we learn from it,” the abbot said turning to Inspector Gamache, after the Chief Inspector had solved the mystery of a recent murder in the monastery of the Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups. “What lesson will you learn?” Gamache inquired.
The abbot thought about it. “Do you know why our emblem is two wolves intertwined?” Gamache replied with his theory, only to be corrected by the abbot. “No, the emblem is from a native story of the Montagnais.”  
“Don Clement relates it in his diaries. One of the elders told him that when he was a boy his grandfather came to him one day and said he had two wolves fighting inside of him. One was gray, the other black. The gray one wanted his grandfather to be courageous, patient, and kind. The other, the black one, wanted his grandfather to be fearful and cruel. This upset the boy and he thought about it for a few days then returned to his grandfather. He asked, ‘Grandfather, which of the wolves will win?’ “
The Old Man in the Tree, Dodgeville, Wisc. 

The abbot smiled slightly. “Do you know what his grandfather said?” The Inspector shook his head. “The one I feed,” replied the abbot.
Gamache looked at the monastery; he’d mistranslated the emblem. Not Saint Gilbert among the wolves, but between them. In that place of perpetual choice. (chapter. 34)

Like Inspector Gamache, I pondered this story then smiled.  This is why I enjoy Louise Penny’s books so much. Many of her explanations are lines from poetry, mythology, Bible, folklore, and literature. She asks her readers to think about the problem, the mystery, or an aspect of life that the characters must also deal with.  As Inspector Gamache knows, each of us deals with perpetual choice. 

I found myself thinking ahead to choices I need to make and then smiled.  There’s something about giving a situation a story that makes it easier for me to solve and think through. I can see more clearly what I’m feeding and what I’m denying. 

Perspective and choice! So many ways to relate to this story. 


  1. Thank you for this reminder, Letty.

    I also love Louse Penny's stories.

    1. Thank you Martha.
      I'm reading her books completely out of order since I read the last one first. No matter the order they are intriguing. I love the way she mixes many aspects of literature and music with her story line and characters.

  2. Love this. Will check out her books. nv