Conversations with the lion can be scary but rewarding
The Rev. Torey Lightcap
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Here is our friend Aesop: “The first time the Fox saw the Lion he nearly died with fright. The next time he gathered sufficient courage to have a good stare. The third time he boldly went up to the Lion and commenced a familiar conversation with him.”
So it was, is, and ever thus shall be. The Lion represents authority, power, dominion, and strength. The Fox is any old suppliant.
For my purposes today, the Lion is like God. (If you’ve read your C.S. Lewis, you know that this is no stretch.) We are the Fox.
Most foxes never get past that first, frightful vision of the lion. He is bigger by far than we, more powerful and agile, smarter ” a storied and fanged beast, untamed and crouching. His hunger is famous. To even pass by him a second time means that the fox must follow Lady MacBeth’s famous admonition: “Screw your courage to the sticking-place.” For those foxes with gall enough to actually stop and see the lion the third time, there are innumerable riches of heart and life awaiting inside that “familiar conversation.”
All of this is a sort of short-form metaphor for the spiritual journey, which proceeds by
degrees, over time, and where, it may be argued, the whole point is to get past
ourselves enough to engage in holy conversation.
Our partner for this conversation is generous, broad of mind, and wise ” the one
Jesus called “Abba,” or, in our words, “Poppa.” Endless good talk awaits. Yet as
foxes, we have been trained to stay away from the lion, or risk being devoured.
When God is no longer to us merely an authority figure, no longer the one who
induces panic and wields fate like a scythe, then we have taken a first step. When
God is no longer to us merely the source of fascination and speculation ” the thing
at which we gawk ” then we have taken a second step. When God is finally the one
whom we desire most for conversation (notice, please, not just our monologues,
diatribes, and dissertations), then we know we’re really getting somewhere.
And I can go one better, too. You don’t have to quit your life to have that conversation.
It just requires that you place your intention before you and be willing to consent to
having the conversation, which, again, means listening and not just yakking.
That’s it. Everything else will follow.
If you are willing to consent (or even willing to try to consent), now is an excellent
time. The Christian season of Lent has been very short this year, and Easter Sunday
is coming up fast, on March 23. Observances of Palm Sunday (March 16), Mandy
Thursday (the 20th), Good Friday (the 21st), Holy Saturday (the 22nd), and Easter Sunday will be held all over these valleys in all kinds of churches. Each day is a
special celebration all on its own, yet part of a beautiful tapestry of a much larger
story of God’s interactions with humanity, and I can’t recommend them enough.
Each of these special days is also a grand, hand-lettered invitation to holy
conversation, direct from the Lion, to each and every Fox.
Aesop may have been right after a fashion, but so was C.S. Lewis. His lion’s name
was Aslan, and Lewis took pains to describe him well.
One of Lewis’ characters, a schoolgirl named Lucy, is told about Aslan and, listening
hard, she comes to a sane conclusion. “He isn’t safe?” she asks.
“Safe?” her friend replies. “Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”
The Rev. Torey Lightcap is priest-in-charge of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Glenwood Springs (www.saint-barnabas.info). Torey and his wife have two children and live in New Castle.
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Elk Creek Elementary fourth grader Brian Hazelton said he wants to be an astronomer, an artist and an author when he grows up.