Not a Tame Lion


WRESTLING with the idea that one should both Fear God and Love him, praying for wisdom. The image arises first of the Icon of God, a human person. They are awesome, but – even if I do manage to love them for the right reasons, I never fear them except for what they could do to hurt me. If someone triggers my “bully” PTSD, for example, I don’t know what to do except run away. I experience no holy fear in the presence of a human person. Perhaps that is a confessable sin, itself. I don’t know.

Then arose the image of a cat. I can spend rather a long time looking into the eyes of a cat. Every once in a while it dawns on me that the cat is actually looking back. Some place in there is an intelligence that is completely alien, entirely other, and this intelligence is now contemplating me or at least considering if I might be food. Sometimes that’s a bit scary, learning to trust a cat. Cats are so strange, and yet they clearly see you when they want to. Further, they can let you know that they see you: their eyes shift focus from your right eye to your left eye. They can make eye contact with you in a mirror even when they ignore their own image. Was it this experience – one never has it with dogs, but maybe wolves? – that resulted in C.S. Lewis picking a great Lion as his divine character, Aslan?

So there, comes the realization, is the linking of fear and love: so fully other, yet you give yourself over in trust. This is where it is. This is where the incarnation connects us with what is entirely not-us. The Divine becomes a Son of Adam and could we look him in the eyes? Yes. But now? Would those eyes look at us alien and beyond holy? Or would they be the eyes of love looking at us.

In fear, we realize He sees us. He sees me.

And in love, we surrender to the Only Good that can ever Be.

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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