Young Lion of God

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Part 1. The attack

Chapter 1.

Forty-Eight years had passed but he could still see his father dying as if it had happened yesterday, the pain washing over him afresh, like the breaking of the dawn.

            The battle had started suddenly, unexpectedly.  Arik was five years old then and the day had begun like any other day.

            Waking up each morning had been so peaceful then.  It was a kind of peace he hadn’t known since, and he still missed the warm feeling inside.

            But, like every other day of the first five years of his life, Arik would gradually come to consciousness with the quiet singing of his mother reaching his ears as the sound waves slipped through the cloth curtain that separated his small sleeping quarters from the rest of the house.

            The words of her songs always seemed to be about mountains and trees and sun, moon, and stars.  They were about all living things and joyful shouting to a God who was great and worthy of praise.  Sometimes it was as if his mother was making up a new song on the spot, while she was preparing his breakfast. 

He could still recall that he had giggled that morning as he lay under his warm covers, listening to her melody.

She had been singing about what her great God had done for her.  It was a personal song.  And there was poetry woven within the tune, as if she wanted a rhyming word at the end of each line. 

The words of that brief song had never left him because they had been some of the last he heard her sing, or say.  It was an impartation from her heart to his, although he didn’t know they would be the final moments of peace in his young life.  Fifty-three years old now, he realized he would never experience carefree days like that again.  She had sung…

 “You have made me glad because your goodness does not end,

So, I will dance with joy every morning,

And I will tell the world that you have been my friend,

So, I will… hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, and whatever.”

            That is when Arik giggled, wiped the sleep from his eyes, and pulled back the covers from his bed to run into the next room to tease his mother, who’d obviously been unable to come up with the right word to keep her new song going and had ended the stanza helplessly.

            The curtain swooshed as he pulled it open and ran to her for one of her famous morning hugs.  Arik covered the space between them in no time as he flung himself into her outstretched arms, feeling himself enveloped in the warmth of her embrace, which happened to include a bit of flour from her worn apron for good measure.

            This was safety.  This was security.  This was happiness.  And all of this was about to be altered, shaking Arik’s world like an earthquake that never ended.

            “Mom!  Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, and whatever?”  He chuckled.  “Hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, and whatever!  That’s a funny song, mom!”

            She let go of him for a moment and laughed.  When, suddenly, she put her soft hands around his face, cupping each cheek gently as she stared gleefully into his mischievous eyes.

            “I’ll tell you what,” she said.  “You finish the song!  I have given you the first lines of a great new song and I will let you complete it!  But remember this, our song is about joy.  It is about goodness.  It is about newness every day.”  She paused, and then her smiling eyes turned serious.  It was not unlike her to do something like this.  She was so full of energy and joy, but just as quickly her expressive face could change, and Arik would catch the hint of an intensity that he didn’t understand at the time.

            “Arik, it is important that you remember this, no matter what happens in your life.  God’s goodness does not end.  It does not change.  Our circumstances may change, and our lives may be hard at times, but God is always good.  If we choose Him, He will always give us joy in the midst of our trials.  And we can always dance.”  She paused for effect.  “We can dance, Arik, even if our legs do not work.  Will you remember?”

            Although he was used to these momentary shifts into serious words, it seemed his mother’s eyes held something more today, as if she were warning him of troubles to come and attempting to cement something into his young soul that would carry him through the troubles.

            “I will, ma,” he responded in a quiet tone, his sensitive nature somehow detecting the importance of the moment to his beloved mother. 

The corners of her mouth edged upward just a bit as the lines of her eyes crinkled with the beginning of a smile and she gently ran her fingers through his thick hair.

            At the time, of course, Arik couldn’t perceive the significance of this.  He only knew it was different in some way.  It would be years later that the full force of her conveyance would come back to mind.  It would continue to do so at various points during the hard life that was about to begin.  He realized now, thinking back on that moment from forty-eight years ago, that her words had formed an anchor, of sorts, upon which he stood; upon which he survived, really. 

            “No matter what, God is good.  No matter what, he could find joy.”             And then it happened.

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