One morning, while passing a stream, an old man saw a scorpion floating helplessly in the water. As the scorpion washed closer to a tree, the old man stretched himself out on one of the long roots that branched into the river and reached out to rescue the drowning creature. But as soon as he touched it, the scorpion stung him. Instinctively the man withdrew his hand in pain.
A moment later, he regained his balance, and again stretched out his hand to save the scorpion. This time the scorpion stung him so badly that his hand became swollen and bloody and began throbbing from the pain.
At that moment, a passerby saw the old man stretched out on the root struggling with the scorpion and shouted: "Hey 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 save."
Retold by Henri Nouwen