I wish we could. I’d choose a benign one, an old, feeble, toothless one.
I’d choose one that had been used on the MGM movie set for years, one that everyone trusted. You’d just steer around him when you moved across the set, absent-mindedly stroking his fur as you went past. Little kids would make a point of visiting that set, tumbling over him with squeals of delight.
I don’t think I’d even mind the fierce ones, the ones that you meet in the arena, the ones that immediately lunge for you and gobble you up and you’re home free. It would all be over so fast you wouldn’t have much time to be terrified. Besides, I’ve heard that in the shock of being attacked–by a bear, a shark, maybe even a human–you don’t feel any pain.
But some of these lions look so righteous–a stiffness in the spine, a firmness around the mouth, a determination in the eye that could never be mistaken for compassion. Others look sincere and gently reproachful. Lions that genuinely don’t know they are lions, who think we are the lions and they are the martyrs.
It’s these last that are the hardest to face. They seem genuinely sorrowful that they have to eat us–but they will eat us all the same. Grind up our bones and spit out the gristle. And they will tell themselves they are doing it for God. . .
If I could choose my lion, I’d choose Aslan.
(Written during a difficult time, January 31, 2012)