I saw a fascinating documentary last evening called “The Elephant in the Living Room.” The film takes its viewers deep into the American subculture of raising some of the world’s most dangerous animals as household pets, focusing in particular on Terry Brumfield, a kindhearted man who is struggling to raise two African lions he bought to help him deal with his depression following a truck driving accident.
Mr. Brumfield cares deeply for the lions, but his declining health and fragile emotional state make it obvious to him that he must find a more appropriate home for them. He knew he was growing increasingly incapable of handling them, but holds on to them even though his difficult situation is rendered more awkward by the birth of four lion cubs. Strangely, he doesn’t let them move on until tragedy strikes. His first lion, a gorgeous male named Lambert, was sadly electrocuted to death in a freak accident.
While the story is heart-wrenching, it happens more often than you might think, well, maybe not actually, but metaphorically-speaking. Mankind has suffered from this ironic condition – where that which is loved is kept imprisoned – for ages. He loves his higher self, but keeps it imprisoned for various reasons. Perhaps like Mr. Brumfield, he feels he will lose himself if he opens the gate. Or maybe he does so because it makes him feel powerful to imprison that which he knows is greater than himself.
Whatever the reason, it is clear from watching this film and from any honest review of human history that we must endeavor as individuals, and eventually as a race, to embrace the means by which our higher selves can be given free reign in the field of circumstance we are blessed to have before us. The lion is a wonderful symbol of nobility and strength and it pained me to see one of them locked in a horse trailer in this well-intentioned, but sad man’s back yard. Even sadder to me is the limited state we have accepted for ourselves as human beings. Remember this: that which becomes normal is not always natural.
Man has long hoped and prayed for the release of a great power in the earth. They feel it is being withheld from them for one reason or another. The various world religions have elaborate reasons for why it is being kept from them, but I think we’ve been looking at it backwards. We are the prison wardens – not the prisoners – and we alone possess the key that unlocks to gate to our freedom. We are are the means by which and through which the beauty and truth, the majesty in fact of that power can be known in the earth – not in some distant future, but here and now.