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  • Writer's picturePhil

Lions and Lambs

First Tuesday of Advent: “The wolf will dwell with the lamb, the calf and lion cub will feed together, and a little child will lead them” Isaiah 11.


- Henri Nouwen

There is within you a lamb and a lion.

Your lion is your adult, aggressive self.

It is your initiative-taking and decision-making self.

But there is also your fearful, vulnerable lamb,

the part of you that needs affection, support,

affirmation, and nurturing.

When you heed only your inner lion,

you will find yourself over-extended and exhausted.

When you take notice only of your inner lamb,

you will easily become a victim of your need for other people’s attention.

The art of spiritual living

is to fully claim both your lion and your lamb.

Then you can act assertively without denying your own needs.

And you can ask for affection and care

without betraying your talent to offer leadership.

Developing your identity as a child of God

in no way means giving up your responsibilities.

Likewise, claiming your adult self in no way means

that you cannot become increasingly a child of God.

In fact, the opposite is true.

The more you can feel safe as a child of God,

the freer you will be to claim your place in the world

as a responsible human being.

And the more you claim that you have a unique task to fulfil for God,

the more open you will be to letting your deepest need be met.

The kingdom of peace that Jesus came to establish

begins when your lion and your lamb

can freely and fearlessly lie down together.

Spiritual maturity is the ability

to let lamb and lion lie down together.

To become a lion sometimes you need to be a lamb.

The lion, bold and courageous.

The lamb, meek and gentle.

One leads, the other is led.

Yet sometimes our boldness lacks meekness

and our courage lacks gentleness.

I ponder the idea:

wouldn't it be great to be able to join these two temperaments together?

Yet what life has taught me is

that underneath most lion or lamb-people

lay a broken and wounded heart.

The surface bravery of the all-lion often hides beneath it a fearful bully.

And we might misinterpret passivity as being a lamb's meekness

disguising unresolved aggression and hate.

So I've come to see that no person can or should be all-lion or all-lamb.

While it's a great virtue to possess some of what these animal's represent,

an even greater gift is the knowledge and wisdom to use them at the right time.

Living God of Peace,

you tell of a time when the lion and the lamb shall live in harmony.

In the midst of a world where the meek and vulnerable are wronged;

In a global society where those who consider themselves strong

show aggression towards the weak;

we pray that the peoples of the world will learn to live in peace,

and that both the strong and the vulnerable

may honour each other in joy and harmony,

making possible a healthier and contented "now". Amen

O Lord, in all the hazards of life,

grant us courage which stands not in the strength of the arm,

but in the stay of a good conscience.

Be near to us when we are afraid;

teach us when we should speak,

and when we should be silent;

when we must do,

and when we must forbear;

in all time of our temptation, danger and difficulty,

let us not fall from you,

who never fail them that trust your care,

through Jesus Christ our Lord. W.Piggott

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