Lady Marchmain on Animals
|Bears Stealing Honey|
The Bear found this amusing from the reading he is sharing with his mate: Brideshead Revisted.
"But of course," she said, "it's very unexpected for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, but the gospel is simply a catalog of unexpected things. It's not to be expected that an ox and an ass should worship at the crib. Animals are always doing the oddest things in the lives of the saints. It's all part of the poetry, the Alice-in-Wonderland side of religion."Oddest things indeed, the Bear mused. Do you suppose a bear was drawn to the lights and sounds of the Nativity, only to hold back, not so much fearful, as afraid of being fearsome? Yet perhaps he should have paid his respects, after all. The most terrible things can be the most comforting. The Bear becomes the Teddy Bear. God becomes a Baby. As long as they're on your side, the very best friends are the most ferocious.
Oddest things indeed. Heroic bears were the friends of Elisha, but ferocious to a dangerous mob of youths.
23 And he went up from thence to Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, little boys came out of the city and mocked him, saying: Go up, thou bald head, go up, thou bald head. 24 And looking back, he saw them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord: and there came forth two bears out of the forest, and tore of them, two and forty boys.(2 Ki 2:23–24. Douay-Rheims).
And, if the Bear may draw attention to his own place in the catalog of odd things, he permitted himself to be laden with St. Corbinian's baggage all the way to Rome.
C.S. Lewis wrote, "Aslan is not a tame lion," in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. He is ferocious, yet gentle. He lies down like a lamb, and might lie down with the lamb, but not because he is any less of the Lion.
If the Old Testament takes pains to illustrate God's ferocity, St. Luke's Gospel begins with a Babe and ends with a sacrificial Lamb. Yet the final book of the Bible reveals the truth: the Lamb of the Apocalypse with a two-edged sword issuing from His mouth, a terrible, wonderful Lamb.
If animals do the oddest thing in the lives of saints, it is because our God is the oddest God: the Warrior Lamb. What Lady Marchmain called the "Alice-in-Wonderland side of religion," appeals to our appreciation of the poetic and even the absurd. Credo quia absurdum.
A hand-fed Bear carrying baggage indeed!