By Charles Towne
Please believe me when I tell you that normal Zoo directors don’t arbitrarily wake up one morning with the idea that, “Today I am going to become a lion tamer!”
More years ago than I care to contemplate I was the director of a small Midwestern zoo. Totally full of myself I woke up one morning and I decided, quite arbitrarily I might add, to become a lion tamer.
Looking back from the perspective of those years, I can see that there is some truth to that old saying, “The Good Lord takes care of old men, children, fools, and crazy zoo directors.”
Up until that time and since, I suppose that it might be said of me that I have at times bought “fool” to a very fine degree of perfection. How else would you describe the quaint pastime of noodling for snapping turtles?
Imagine that you are standing in a river in waist deep water. The water is murky, almost coffee colored, but you jam your hands beneath the surface and began feeling around. Ah, you find what you seek! Grabbing it, you pull forth a twenty-pound snapping turtle, very capable of ruining your day. (They call it “noodling” because your fingers look like noodles to a big, fat snapping turtle.
Ahhh, now you are beginning to get an idea of what I mean when I refer to foolishness.
Let us return to lion taming, shall we?
But wait, before we return to lion taming we will throw another element into the mix, prayer.
Prayer is a very powerful entity. The only reason I am here today is the fact that my dear, sainted mother spent an almost unreasonable amount of time praying for me.
All of that aside, I am somewhat puzzled that prayer is not used more often.
I am sure I prayed before I stepped into that lion’s cage. My prayer probably went something like this, “Lord, please keep me safe from the lion. Amen.”
And never once did I hear a deep, God-like voice say, “Sorry Charles, Daniel you are not, and I really do have a hard time fixing stupid.”
I broke every rule in the manual of lion taming that day so I am sure Papa God was taking care of me in spite of my stupidity!
And in regards to prayer, I wonder, do you suppose that, just perhaps, the lion was praying? If so, perhaps his prayer would have gone something like this, “Please Lord, send a nice, tender, and not too bright human to walk into my cage so I can have a delicious meal, Amen”
Lions, as well as all other big cats, are worked in round or ovoid cages for a very good reason. When entering the cage with the lions or tigers the trainer always keeps the cats circling to the outside walls of the cage, so the reason for the round cage becomes apparent. No corners.
When a large carnivore is backed into a corner it feels trapped, therefore there is a very good chance that it will retreat forward, right over the top of the trainer, where it is apt to pause momentarily to exercise its claws and teeth with great vigor and zeal.
With a certain level of fear and trepidation, I opened the door to the lion’s cage.
Keep in mind you are not supposed to show fear.
Remember, animals sense fear, so I whispered a mantra of, “I am not afraid, I am not afraid, I am not afraid…!” All the while hearing an accusing voice whispering back, “Liar, Liar, pants on fire…!”
In my right hand, I held a light-weight kitchen chair and in my left a broom handle. (As you can see this was all very high tech.)
I stepped into the cage.
I stared at the lion while I was pondering, “What are you doing Chuck, don’t you realize this is a lion?”
The lion was staring back at me wondering, “What are you doing Chuck, don’t you realize I am a lion?”
The animals in the other cages were watching and thinking, “What is this idiot doing, doesn’t he realize that is a lion!”
Looking back at it all from the myopic vision of many years and with my somewhat warped sense of humor, I have to wonder, was the lion praying for protection from the idiot human with the silly stick? Or just perhaps the lion was praying, “Please Lord, give me patience!” Or, I can just imagine him asking grace, “Thank you Lord for sending this tender human that I am about to eat, Amen.”
Well, it is obvious the lion didn’t eat me because of the fact that I didn’t end up as a large pile of black, tarry, and very smelly substance on the floor of the lion cage. Therefore, one thing I have had to accept since that long ago venture into the wild side is this, God really does protect idiots, and He does eventually fix stupid.
How many times has God saved you? Are you in the habit of praying, visiting with Him? It has been said that prayer is “communication with God as with a friend.” And so I ask, are you in the habit of calling on your Holy friend only in time of desperate need, or, do you visit with Him spontaneously, enjoy being in His presence as though He really is your very best friend?
Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.