The Scorpion, the Compassionate Man & the Fire of my Anger

One morning, after he had finished his meditation, the old man opened his eyes and saw a scorpion floating helplessly in the water. As the scorpion was washed closer to the tree, the old man quickly stretched himself out on one of the long roots that branched out into the river and reached out to rescue the drowning creature. As soon as he touched it, the scorpion stung him. Instinctively the man withdrew his hand. A minute later, after he had regained his balance, he stretched himself out again on the roots to save the scorpion. This time the scorpion stung him so badly with its poisonous tail that his hand became swollen and bloody and his face contorted with pain.

At that moment, a passerby saw the old man stretched out on the roots struggling with the scorpion and shouted: “Hey, stupid old man, what’s wrong with you? Only a fool would risk his life for the sake of an ugly, evil creature. Don’t you know you could kill yourself trying to save that ungrateful scorpion?”

The old man turned his head. Looking into the stranger’s eyes he said calmly, “My friend, just because it is the scorpion’s nature to sting, that does not change my nature to have compassion.”

This parable has been rolling about in my head like an accusing voice of reason and reproach. I’m trying to ignore the shame I feel as I allow anger to rule my mind and determine my actions, but I’m not having much success. And as I allow the fire of my anger to continue to burn, it is burning me.

Whether I FEEL loving should not determine whether I AM loving. I should be above retaliation. I should rise up and demand a loving action from myself. I should not allow the petty, drama-loving, evil intentions of another determine how I act, who I am, or how I feel. Who I AM is not determined by my surroundings or the situation or the integrity of the individual I am choosing to allow to hurt me. Who I AM is not determined by anyone but ME.

“To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.” -G.K. Chesterton

I choose love. I choose forgiveness. I choose hope. I choose Christ. And I choose to love, have faith in and have hope for you, all of you. I choose to forgive even the most unlovable among you (and you know who you are).

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that this will be an easy path for me. I will stumble. I will fall. But whenever I fall, I will get back up again and try again to walk this path once more.

Whether the scorpion deserves to be treated gently means nothing. But the fact that I must find compassion for every living creature, no matter how poisonous its sting, is everything.

~ by Kimberly Mason on March 10, 2010.

2 Responses to “The Scorpion, the Compassionate Man & the Fire of my Anger”

  1. Being compassionate does not necessarily mean throwing caution to the winds. The old man’s point is that compassion is limitless, regardless of the context. For each of us in the context of our individual lives, however, we can be both compassionate and careful. Further, compassion does not in itself extinguish all other passion (either anger or love). One would hope that being compassionate would open the self to limitless love. At least that’s what we are working toward in Christ. Such is the Way.

    • I think that the best attribute I can lay claim to is that I continually choose to surround myself with really, truly wise people. People who are strong where I am weak. People who sometimes save me from myself; and people who sometimes watch me stumble and fall, who give me the time to the learn lessons for myself through my own missteps, and then are there to pick me up and brush me off  afterwards.

      You are one of those people.

      I have another friend (another of my Peeps of Wisdom & Truth *g*) that emailed me this comment:

      Beautiful.  But as I always think when I hear this story, sure, save him.  But be smart.  Use a 10 foot pole.  Make a net from your robe.  Toss him a twig.  But don’t think your efforts are only valuable if you get hurt in the process, it’s great to save and forgive, but unnecessary martyrdom isn’t always a virtue.    You run unprotected into the burning building to save the innocent child.  You just call the fire department for the arsonist.   So says the totally not holy champion of the underdog, – Me

      Great minds….. 🙂

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