Tuesday, July 08, 2008

"Lion Hugs" and a Glimpse into Paradise Restored

The above story is true. It has been verified by Snopes (click here for the full story). It calls to mind another famous video of a lion who likes to hug his benefactor.

Perhaps the most extraordinary thing is that not only does Christian the lion come back to give hugs to his friends after living in the wild, he brought along his lioness for a visit as well.

This incident and those like it are wee glimpses into the glories of our future Paradise where the peace and harmony of all creation is restored, especially as foretold in Isa 11:6 and Isa 65:25. Even in its fallen state, the universe made by the Creator is a wondrous and mysterious thing.

Though I've never had such an incident with a lion, I did have a similar meeting with a family of Canada geese.

A little more than a decade ago, I was working for a consulting firm whose office was in a typical corporate park. Not far away was a pond where ducks and geese were to be found. In the middle of winter (this was snowy Pennsylvania), a mother Goose nested - smack in the middle of the parking lot, on a small "island" of ground at the foot of a little tree. For some unknown reason, a lot of people found her presence annoying (which goes to show you how loathed the very concept of motherhood is these days). Mother Goose sat on her eggs for several weeks, with Father Goose close by. I would go outside and visit her every day. I would speak softly to her, and she would let me come very close. After a while, she even raised up to show off her four eggs to me. I would bring her food and water - which she really seemed to appreciate - especially when a blizzard came. Father Goose always watched warily, but he seemed to trust me.

One day, the nest was empty. The only thing inside were egg shells and down. I had no idea what happened to the little family. That is, until a few days later, I was strolling around the grounds, and caught sight of two adults and four chicks running full speed - right at me, honking and flapping wildly. At first, I thought they were coming to attack! But instead, they were coming to visit. Mother and father Goose were unworried in the least as the tiny goslings walked right up to me, as though they were my long lost friends.

They joined the larger flock of geese at the pond. Mrs. Hollywood and I would come to visit (as a few sour know-it-all types would inevitably roll their eyes at us and warn us to "stay away from the geese" because "they're mean" and "they'll bite you!"). But that simply never happened.

In fact, when the geese would see me coming, the entire flock, probably a gaggle of a hundred adults and children, would come running, waddling and flapping their wings, over the crest of the hill, in what looked like a giant party. It was utterly comical. We picked the goslings up and cradled them in our laps as the parents looked on unworried. We have some great pictures we took with our friends. It made me wonder what the know-it-all types had done to them to make them "mean" to them.

Like Mrs. Hollywood said today as we were thinking back on our visits with the geese - especially in light of this story about Christian the lion - it goes to show you that even a wild animal can appreciate kindness and is capable of understanding, and even remembering, such treatment four years later - showing his gratitude by demonstrable affection.


William Weedon said...

That was really neat. Thanks - for the lion and for the geese!

William Weedon said...

And thanks for the elephants a while ago too. That was unbelievable!

Scott Diekmann said...

John 10:14 "I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me,"

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

I shall now dub thee "Beane of Assisi". Well, okay, that doesn't sound quite right. Maybe Larry the Geese hugger.

But a neat story - and something else to point out. We see in people's reaction the amount of fear that there is as regards the creation since the fall. That too is something to ponder.

Pr. H. R. said...

Eat your heart out, St. Jerome.


Thursday's Child said...

I love that video! It's amazing what can happen between humans and animals when we allow ourselves to simply enjoy each other. BTW, have you ever read the children's book "The Morning of the World" about Adam naming the animals? It's a neat book.

Oh, and if you're hungry, check out my blog. ;)

Kobra said...

Wow, thanks for posting this, bro. great stuff.

Anonymous said...

Cool story. If you still have those pictures, could you post them?

Donna said...

Here is another clip of a grown lion hugging the woman who rescued him years before.


Donna said...

Here's the clip another grown lion who hugs the woman who rescued him years before.


Father Hollywood said...

Thanks for the comments, y'all.

Dear Eric, we do have an icon of St. Francis posted in the Hollywood Presbytere (and I'm annoyed that Francis, called "St. Francis" and a "holy father" by the Lutheran confessions isn't even mentioned on the commemorations page. I think we should bless the animals on the Feast of St. F.).

Dear J.E. Heath: I do have those pictures - but I need to scan them. They were taken b.d. (before digital). I have one of Mrs. Hollywood with a gosling on her lap, and they look exactly like they're conversing.

Dear Donna: Isn't that something? Lions seem to like hugging. One of my cats, Vicar, is like that. He will wrap his arms around my neck, give me a neck rub, and purr. He also grooms my beard. He's a real pal.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

St. Francis has perhaps the greatest dying words of the Middle Ages. His last words were reported to have been, "I hope they don't go and make a saint of me."

It was neat to hear the tour guide even point this out in Assisi.