Lioness Mother ….a short story

By Jennifer Brookins

Her wayward cub never listened to mystic counsel. He thought himself more clever, more surefooted and never viewed his reflection in the lake. Early mornings when dawn spread her wings over the forest, lioness mother slammed the arrogant cub against tree trunks to offer him a wake-up call. The young cub never heeded her warnings and continued to stray into the dark, perilous forest to play with monkeys, lizards; even reptiles. He ignored the suffering she endured to protect him. As lioness mother grew older, her magnificent coat lost it’s luster; her gentle paws roamed no more. As she grew weaker still, even mother earth was saddened by the loss of her benign step. Early one midsummer morning he nestled his head within the curve of her warm underbelly, as was his custom to wait for mother to welcome a new day. However, this morning her roar was silence and the beat of her heart no more. The young lion was beside himself. He reflected on his years of bad behavior; unreceptive to her mighty roar. He even tried slamming himself against tree trunks but that didn’t help; instead, he got a headache. His heart was so grief stricken, he could not lean on his brothers and sisters. They had become strangers. That is when the old lion sought refuge in the wooded depths. Many years later, a great he-lion stumbled across the lost one. He looked deep into the thicket at what appeared to be a mole curled up into a ball entangled in clinging vines. He cocked his head to one side and inquired, “Have you gazed into the lake today?” Filled with remorse, he couldn’t open his eyes but whispered to the stranger, “I have never ventured to the lake as instructed by mother.” The he-lion replied softly, “Well then, time to get up. Let us proceed to the lake and reflect.” Ever so gently, he disentangled him from the clinging vines and briars. The he-lion’s tone had a calming affect on him for there was a command in his roar reminiscent of lioness mother. He slowly stood up and dutifully followed. When they reached their destination, he looked at his reflection long and hard. What he saw in the lake startled him: his childhood was gone, rather, his body was that of an old raggedy lion whose coat had no sheen and the tuft under his chin knotted and white. Worse still, his steady flow of tears had carved deep ravines below his eyes where the fur had washed away. He had grown old without knowing it. Where had his life gone? He began to remember the early years when he strutted about thinking himself immortal. Suddenly the old lion was overwhelmed, not so much for what he saw but for the unseen; not so much for what he thought he knew, but for what he didn’t know. After this disconcerting interlude he began trotting behind the he-lion as he always did with mother. One day strange things began to unfold. Spontaneous awakenings were gifted him … like a universe of fireflies playing tiddle de winks. He began to view the monkey world as a strange land, himself a stranger in it, when a wonderful thing happened. The old lion found a treasure that lioness mother had hidden long ago for him to discover at just the right time: the yearning seed. His old fun-loving ways now replaced by a longing to reside in the Great Lion consciousness. This was no small feat because the great he-lion brooked no nonsense, especially when he stepped on land mines. He realized the he-lion had simply picked up where lioness mother left off. The old lion began to wonder what would be left of him when slammed against tree trunks once again. However, the he-lion had a different, albeit more subtle, way to drive home his point. He exposed the old lions flaws in the mirror of his heart thereby raising the stakes each time a gauntlet was thrown to the ground; an ancient teaching method which few stayed around long enough to benefit. Many moons witnessed the old lion listening to the sounds of early morning when he slow-walked to the lake each day. Lioness mother had taught him to listen. After so many years, he finally remembered her counsel: “Dear heart please listen. If you can do this, you’ll be less of a stranger to yourself.” Some mornings the old lion can hear raindrops turn into icicles and blades of grass bow their heads to the Great Lion Consciousness. ¬© 2020 Jennifer Brookins

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