The Lion, The Wolf and The Lamb
“The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like an ox.”
Edward Hicks, the Quaker minister and primitive American painter, painted 62 versions of his “Peaceable Kingdom,” in which a child pets a lion with one hand, and a tiger with the other. The cow lies with the leopard and the wolf nestles with the sheep.
Inspired by Isaiah’s messianic vision, Hicks depicts a world where peace comes to the whole creation. All life holds together in balance and harmony. For too long we have read Isaiah and hung Hicks’ painting on every Sunday school wall, waiting for the messiah to come and make that wolf lie down with that lamb. Someday, we hoped and prayed, the wolf will no longer dominate and ravage.
Now, however, we have met the wolf, and he is us.
At one time in our history, humans were vulnerable creatures on the earth. But with greater and greater technological advances, humans have come to dominate the planet. We have carelessly destroyed delicate ecosystems that our fellow creatures need to live, never realizing that our very life depends on theirs. Right now around a million animal and plant species are receding into extinction, because the wolf has run them off.
The beautiful, arresting prophecies of Advent reveal for us what Verna Dozier called “the dream of God,” the divine aspiration for all life. Prophetic words often call upon us to turn our lives in a new direction, to live differently. Today Isaiah pleads with us wolves to stop our selfish domination—because our very lives depend on it.
Prayer: Open our eyes, Creator God, to see how intricately you have woven all the strands of life into one delicate, elaborate web; show us the self-defeating folly of domination and lead us into wholeness. Amen.
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