Bats, Owls, Lions, Wolves, and Lambs


It wasnít a lamb and a lion that I saw lying down together by the side of the US 2 near mile marker 78 in Idahoís panhandle as I was bringing Gay back home after her trip to Portland Oregon to see three of her four children. It was a lion, a rare, almost unheard of, black mountain lion, but a plump Whitetail doe took the lambís place. They were lying down together but I donít think they were quite as the apocalyptist envisioned them. It was peaceful enough. No arguing or fighting, but I got there too late for that and the doe was in the stillness of death and the lion enjoying the fruits of his late afternoon kill.

There is something stirring about seeing nature close up. Especially for a town born and raised boy who only saw wild animals on the pages of a book, in the films, or on television. Except for the owl I revived in Cyprus, and for one other glorious moment of wild life propinquity at Geoff and Mary Colesí home in Bradford, Yorkshire, when Geoff and I were rebuilding his beckside wall and putting in the waterfall.

A small barrel was doing service as a garden ornament on the bottom lawn, next to the rippling beck. Geoff noticed a small creature moving in the bottom and drew my attention to it. It was a beautiful little bat, probably a pipistrelle. I reached in and picked out the frightened creature that nestled inside my hand, looking at me with its bright eyes. It was a moment to cherish and remember. Soft and warm, vulnerable and frightened, I paused to wonder at its beauty and delighted in the contact with a creature that habitually avoids human contact, and which many humans fear and avoid.

For a few moments we were locked together in an encounter of two different worlds, each isolated from the other. Like the owl in I picked up off the road in Cyprus, it was a moment when two diverse creatures came together in a non-hostile circumstance. For me, they were moments to treasure, but I have no idea how the owl and the bat remembered the meetings.

When the prophet Isaiah wrote that "the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them," he was speaking of a time yet future. Had he written, "the bat and the owl also shall make friends with man," I would have been fulfilling prophecy instead of merely witnessing miracles.

The lion and the lamb lying down together has been used as expressions of millennial peace in poetry and art, but the representation of peace has cause a disturbance of the peace, and in no small way. Big Gerry sat in Sunday School and listened to Richard Taylor teach about the millennium. Richard read the fateful line about the state of peace that would exist between predators and their prey when God had ushered in a new era. Gerry couldnít take it. Neither could he remain silent. Gerry knew more than he should have about conflict and he knew that pursuer and pursued could not lie down together without one of them getting eaten, and that was that! Gerry would not be persuaded otherwise and was last seen heading out of the front doors of the church into the summer sunshine waving his arms wildly above his head, shouting "Lions eat lambs! Lions eat lambs!" To no one in particular.

Too bad that some of us do not believe the promise of Peace made by the Prince of Peace to be an honest promise capable of fulfilment. Perhaps it is only human to expect that diverse species that do not sit comfortably together could exist next to each other and experience wonder rather than fear, love rather than hate, and acceptance rather than rejection. Can it happen? It can. It has happened to me twice in my life. Once on a dusty road in Cyprus summer dusk, and again in the garden of a house called Harmony, near the waterfall, in a barrel.

From what has happened, I am assured of what will happen. Besides that, God, who cannot lie, has promised that it will be so, and I am content to believe Him.

Copyright © Ronnie Bray 2003 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Quill@Libby.org

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