The Lion (Redux)
The sun shown brightly on the beautiful spring day. The flowers beckoned me, “join us!” Their multitude of colors swayed with the gentle breeze across the field. They seemed to say, “Walk this way...” as they exuded their spring glory with an open embrace. As I immersed myself in this ocean of color, the butterflies welcomed me into their dance of pure delight. They visited flower-to-flower to drink themselves into a dizzying frenzy. They shared their love along the way.
The field was bordered by the forest. This unknown place of mystery I dared not venture. This fear of the darkness has kept me in the light: but on this beautiful day, there seemed no boundaries. Joy brought me into the light, yet my heart sought adventure.
I approached the edge of the field. I safely studied the dark forest. An owl called my name. Without thought I stepped onto a dark path. I marveled at the canopy and the coolness: this was a different world. The mystery beckoned my senses. As I explored the textures of the leaves, a worm waved a greeting. With an eye on the worm, a nearby crow called my name. Venturing forward on the path, a bright glow in the distance summoned me. I approached slowly, deliberately. The sunbeams flowed across an opening. Within its stage, the Lion lay. His majesty was remarkable: his gaze intent. He greeted me warmly. He requested my presence. I stood at the edge of the light-beams, intent on a hasty exit. My shy responses seemed to amuse him. He introduced me to his world. He shared his realm in a way that only his magnificent presence could know. Feared or revered, one would never mistake him for less than all that he was. His confidence was assured: his charm disarmed my fear. I found surprising comfort in his warmth and presence.
As the beams took their leave, the darkness encroached. Time passed quickly: I had no measure. A crescendo of cheers from within the darkness surrounding us interrupted the spell of his charm. I knew an immediate departure would be the only safe passage back to all I knew before him. Surprised by my abrupt parting, the Lion beseeched me, "Stay." My companion appeared amused. Acknowledging the darkness, he laughed at my concern.
He purred, “I must tell you, I have a magic stone in my throat. You must pluck it for yourself. It will assure you happiness forever and ever.” His disarming words caused my pause: I considered his majesty, his charm, his offer. In a flash, the urge for home won over his mesmerizing gaze. I could only offer him a faint, “No, thank you.” I swiftly turned down the path, never looking back.
Sitting on the porch, the heat of the summer seemed to melt my skin. No kind breeze would pass my way. The temptation of the canopy and the memory of the coolness, both brought me back to the wood. Crossing the field, the temptation urged me forward: caution begged me, “Stay.” The safety of the known lost to the wonder of my memory.
Exploring this new world, my curiosity could not be contained. At times, my feet flew down the path seeking the next new feeling, the next joy and the next experience. I met fascinating creatures along the way: deer, squirrels, birds. While they were oblivious to my journey, awe and admiration, their existence captivated my soul.
Time was fictional. My wandering grew further than my awareness. The sounds of water tripping over stones called my name. I followed her song, seeking her beauty. A curve in the path exposed a moment of her secrets. I paused, in bemusement and awe. There stretched upon her banks was the Lion. He seemed delighted by her gifts. Completely unaware of me, he seemed pleasured by her trickles and treasured her chill.
The snap of a twig under my foot revealed my secret. His gaze drew quickly to me. Swiftly by my side, he saluted my spirit. He escorted me from her song, from her existence. I sensed I was a secret he didn't care to share. As we walked along the path, he inquired about my world. While his interest seemed genuine, my witness conceived questions I dare not implore. Drawing me out, we laughed, danced, and walked along the path. He shared his secrets and sought mine. He seemed captivated by my presence. He impressed upon me that his world was better because I shared mine.
He placed a beautiful flower in my hair. He marveled an analogy. He placed me on his pedestal. He rained magnificence upon me. In the pinnacle of a moment, he spoke softly, “I have a magic stone in my throat. If you pluck it, you will have happiness forever and ever.” With the exhilaration of the view, I gazed upon his face. Softened by admiration, I considered his offer. In that moment, thunder in the distance drew my heed. It brought awareness to my circumstance: the enchantment, now broken. Falling from the pinnacle, stumbling down the path, I dashed, seeking distance. Returning to the safety of all I knew, I denied his unanswered proposal.
The joy of fall resembled spring. The colors of the trees painted with brilliant, rich hues. From the porch I watched as green turned to burgundy, gold and bronze. The breezes delighted me with their songs. Tickling the leaves, the wind coaxed them to drift, giggling as they found the ground.
Again the forest beckoned from afar. Its whispers I could not deny. As the pathway led me from the field, there seemed a different climate. The coolness caressed my face as the leaves sharply shared the pace of my step: the crunch and crackle was delightful. I danced and twirled down the path. Birds welcomed my presence. The painted leaves floated to the ground all around. A new pathway led me past stones larger than life. Their cool, hard exterior waiting to be explored by my hands. Cracks and crevasses made me question their history. If only they could whisper their truths.
The pathway led to an opening in the stones. I peered inside to find obscurity. The darkness filled my eyes. Some small light streamed from above, displaying a place of comfort, security and welcome. I cautiously moved forward. I discovered treasures and delights of the senses. As I was entertained by the bounty around me, the Lion appeared in the doorway. This was a place of his leisure. He welcomed me with a smile. His majesty still prevailed. His captivating presence disarmed any caution. He was happy to see me and shared his thoughts, his warmth. I grew comfortable with his presence. I was pleased with his company. We shared laughter, talking of days gone by and moments to come. We shared love in that moment, so sweet. The world seemed far away, never to interfere or threaten. As the day faded away, the Lion purred across my shoulder and whispered in my ear, “I have a magic stone in my throat. If you remove it, you will have happiness forever and ever.” I smiled at the repetition in his offer. The daylight began to fade: his face was distant and dark. The challenge of the woodsy navigation distracted my thoughts for the moment. I rose to leave. Smiling, I stroked his mane. I left without a word.
The darkness of winter had swept the field. The sites and scents were but a memory. The cold drove me indoors. Memories were my comfort as the fire crackled in the hearth. I stared at the dancing flames. I remembered moments of adventure, wonderment and passion. The blustery snowstorm surrounded my safe home. It howled at my insolence to its desire. A sharp knock on the door brought me to my feet. I crossed the floor: I opened the door. Lion was covered in snow. His eyes begged for escape. I invited him in: he sat by my fire. His face seemed worn in the light of the flames. I joined his side. He faced me with intent. “I have a magic stone in my throat. You are The Chosen One. You must remove it. In return, you will have happiness forever and ever.”
To be called “The Chosen One.” Tears filled my eyes. I nodded, assenting. Turning his face to the fire, the Lion opened his mouth. I peered inside. Unsure, unsteady, I saw only darkness. I leaned forward, tilting and stretching. I sought confirmation and clarity. From deep within, I saw a glow. Surprised with delight, I moved forward for a closer look. There, deep within the Lion, was a brilliant glow. Facets of light shone brightly as I stayed. Again his majesty mesmerized me. I reached deep within, seeking to grasp the happiness so promised me. With a sharp gasp, the Lion drew in a breath. He sucked out my heart. I fell back in stunned silence. The Lion turned and walked away, taking my heart and my happiness with him.
The darkness within held me captive for years. The world outside knew not my name. An empty shell, I stayed within the confines of all that seemed secure to me. Never let in anyone: Never share joy.
Then one day, the song of a little bird filled my room. The gentle tapping on the window drew me to his melody. I sat beside the sill, admiring his brilliant feathers, glowing in the sunshine. Continuing his song, he beckoned me out. Dancing and fluttering, he called my name. Without hesitation, my hand reached for the door. The warmth of the sun filled my room. The breeze welcomed me home. As I crossed the threshold, the darkness melted with the joy that surrounded me. I stepped onto the portico that had been my sanctuary so often before. I felt safe in my return. The bird circled my head, singing his song. He flew swiftly into the sunshine. “Come outside—I'm waiting in the light!” he implored me. I followed his voice: down the stairs, into the light. Once again, the colors of the rainbow fell on the field. The flowers danced with the breeze.
I allowed the light to again fill my soul. It occurred to me that the joy within should not be contained; happiness cannot be stolen, without permission; and living a life of laughter is the greatest gift to one’s self.