Friday, 22 February 2013

The true story of Androclus and the Lion . . .

With his heart racing and his legs aching from the effort, Androclus finally reached the forest.  He had been running for days, but the forest was a place where he knew he would be safe.  There was no place else he could go that would be as fine a place to hide.   In the forest he would be able to survive.   There would be roots and berries to eat and it would be a lot easier to avoid the wild animals than it would be for him to hide from the Romans which were looking for him as a runaway slave.  If caught, he knew he faced execution.

Within the forest he would live with the terror of being discovered, but he would be alive.  Every pine cone which dropped softly to the moss which carpeted the forest floor was enough to make him jump, his head jerking around . . . his eyes searching for soldiers.

He badly needed shelter.  The air was filled with the promise of rain and darkness would soon be falling.   As he peered through the trees of the forest, he could see an opening in the rocks.   It might be large enough to sleep in for one night, and so Androclus ran towards it.  Just as he got to the mouth of the cave he stopped short.   Lying to the right of the hole in the rocks was a large lion.   Still . . . his fear of discovery was much larger than his fear of the lion.   Praying that the huge beast had already eaten, Androclus ran closer to the open gap in the side of the mountain.

He slowed and stopped . . .  having noticed that the lion had not chased him.   The only movement from the large beast had been a roll of it's head to look at him, rather sorrowfully.  This made Androclus stop to think, and then . . . he slowly retraced his steps.

It became clear to him that the lion was in a great deal of pain.   Although he was afraid Androculs reached down to the large cat, speaking softly and stroking his hand down it's mane and back, gently searching for an injury . . . which he found at last in a nasty gash on the lion's hind leg.  It was apparent that it had been bleeding for some time and showed no signs of stopping.   The man tore cloth from the hem of his tunic and cleaned the wound.  The lion shuddered and groaned, but finally slept.

Just then the clouds which moment before were full of rain, let go of their load and the rain fell to the earth in a torrent of drops.  Androclus crawled into the cave in the side of the mountain and fell asleep immediately.  He was exhausted.   It had been a long and tiring journey from the city walls and he was so very tired.   Minutes later, he was awoken as the lion crawled into the cave, dragging it's injured leg.   It collapsed next to him with a wheezing sigh . . .

The cave was a large space, and Androclus and the lion were able to live there together in a strange companionship for several weeks.  They were able to find a fresh spring not too far away to drink from and the two hunted and gathered the food needed each day.

One day as Androclus knelt scooping water from the stream, he felt something sharp press into his neck.  The centurions had found him at last, and he was forced back to the city.   As he went back into captivity he thought of his friend the lion, knowing that they would never meet again.  Taken to stand in front of the Emperor in court, he was sentenced to death and was then taken to a stone cell in the lower halls under the area to be kept until his time of execution, death being his prize for being a runaway slave.

Finally the day came and he as led into the arena.  All around him the crowd jeered and spit at him, their vile hatred of him filling the very air around him.  His heart filled with dread, as their jeers turned into a thunderous cheer and he witnessed a lion being loosed.   A lion which had not been fed for several days and had been poked and prodded into a fierce anger by the Roman soldiers.   It roared as it saw Androclus and bounded headlong towards him.

He knew he didn't stand a chance against the great beast and so Androclus braced himself, his body tensed for the fight, ready for the pain which he knew would follow.   How different things had been when he had befriended a lion in pain . . . instead of facing a lion which had been poked and prodded towards anger.    He closed his eyes, steeling himself in anticipation of the weight and first slashing blow from the angry beast.

But wait . . . what was this.  Instead of  searing pain, Androclus felt the tongue of the lion wash over his face as it knocked him to the ground.   Opening his eyed, Androclus came face to face with his friend from the forest.  Instead of pouncing to kill, even after days of hunger and torment, the lion, once so gently cared for, fawned over the man like a friendly dog to it's master after his return home.

The crowd lay stunned in silence.  Even the Emperor was silent.  Finally he called Androclus to him whereupon Androclus related to him the story of this amazing friendship which had been formed in the forest outside of the city walls.

When Androclus had finished speaking the Emperor thought for a few minutes, and then he stood to face the crowd.

"Both Androclus and his lion are to be hereby freed," he announced.  "Such amazing kindness and gratitude between fierce enemies should be greatly rewarded."

"The quality of mercy . . . is twice blessed.  It blesseth him that gives and it blesses him that takes."

Yesterday's silver lining . . . an evening spent with a group of very special ladies, my Sisters at church.  We shared some lovely treasures of the heart, but most importantly, we shared each other.  That is always good.

A thought to carry with you through the day . . .

"Good thoughts are no better than  good dreams . . . if you don't follow through."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Cooking today in The English Kitchen . . . Sweet And Spicy Chicken.  Simply delicious.

Have a great day, it's Friday!


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