Remember the Cowardly Lion?
“What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on a ship to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist or the dusky dusk? Courage! What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot? What have they got that I ain’t got?…” ~The Wizard of Oz
Lately I have been thinking a lot about courage. Not quite the kind that our cowardly friend talks about in his monologue, but more the courage in our day-to-day. Courage can be found in anyone around us at any given time. The courage of fighting our failing health and the effects of aging. The courage of grandparents fighting to protect their granddaughter. The courage of a child facing his greatest fears.
Courage is not bound by age. It doesn’t mean we aren’t afraid. It is doing something in spite of our fear, it is displaying strength in the midst of our grief or our pain. This is courage.
My parents display courage on a daily basis as they gracefully accept the aging process and the different effect it has on them as individuals. They choose to laugh at their need for calendars and notes as they do battle with daily forgetfulness. Mom chooses to enjoy life in spite of pain and the sometimes debilitating side effects of Crohns. They choose to laugh and enjoy life. This is courage.
Friends of ours, after the death of their daughter, are fighting for the safety of their granddaughter. They are consistently told that “Grandparents have no rights.” In spite of this they stand and fight, not just for themselves but, quite possibly, for the rights of grandparents everywhere. They choose to fight in spite of fear. This is courage.
When our son was a little boy, he was fearful and shy; somewhat unbelievable to anyone that knows him now, but true. Somewhere around age 7, Eric wanted to buy me something he saw at the local drugstore for Mother’s Day, spending his own money and paying for it himself. I was to wait outside the store. My heart was breaking as I watched him. You could see the fear gripping his little heart as his chin quivered at the thought of what he was about to do, but he did it.
This past Mother’s Day, Eric brought back a flood of emotions and memories with his gift and card. Emotions because, if you know my son, you know that he doesn’t like to spend money on cards. Memories because of the earrings he gave me and what he wrote.
“I picked these out as a nostalgic remembrance of the first earrings I ever bought you. I hope you like them and remember how scared I was to buy those first ones, but that I needed to do it because of how much I love you…”
This is courage.
That little earring next to “Mom” is not a part of the card, but the only survivor of the original pair he bought me almost 30 years ago.
Wherever we may find ourselves in our lives the courage of others can motivate and inspire us to rise above, to press on when we feel defeated, to stand against our greatest fear.
In C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia, there is another lion, this one is not cowardly; this one is a King, an illustration of our King, who says…
“Courage, dear heart.” ~Aslan The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Courage…may it move us always…it is a very big deal.