Lions and Lincoln and Little Folk

Lions and Lincoln and Little Folk

1. Lovable Lions?

Funny how sometimes things all come together with almost impeccable timing. On Monday we read the dragon scene in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And for the first time I was struck by a detail I don’t think I’d noticed before: when she sees the dragoned Eustace, Lucy notices his hurt leg and compares it to Androcles and the lion. And it occurred to me how many stories there are about people helping hurt lions and the lions repaying that kindness with affection and loyalty. We just got a book about St Jerome and the Lion and Ben or Sophie had asked me to read it, perhaps just the day before—it recounts how St Jerome removes thorns from lion’s foot and thereafter the lion becomes the adopted pet of the monastery. We also have a book about St Tekla of Ethiopia—in it Tekla bandages a wounded lion’s foot and years later the lion recognizes Tekla and even becomes his faithful mount, carrying the lame priest from village to village so that he can serve the people. And I think there might be others too. And so after I’d read that scene—and made a mental note to find out more about Androcles because I couldn’t recall the specifics of that story—I was wondering how credible those stories were. And then Facebook serves up a pretty good example of a modern day Androcles with a video my sister shared of a lion greeting the woman who rescued him.

The blurb with the video says:

The woman in the video found the lion, injured in the forest, on the verge of death. She took the lion home with her and nursed it back to health. Later, when the lion was better, she made arrangements with a zoo to take the lion. Some time passed before the woman had a chance to visit the zoo. This video was taken when she walked up to the lion’s cage to see how he was doing. Watch the lion’s reaction when he sees her!!

I did find more information on the BBC site which says that the woman runs an animal sanctuary in Colombia and rescued the lion from a circus. It was ill, and she nourished it back to health. And like so many abused animals who get rescued, he’s very grateful! So maybe the lions the saints rescued were rescued as very young cubs who grew up with people, maybe they had been rescued by someone else and then run away or got lost but already had an affinity and trust for people. Still, it does seem like it could happen….


2. Lincoln’s Words

I’m with Simcha today, reading the Gettysburg Address and taking courage from President Lincoln’s words about “the great task remaining before us.”

The “long train of abuses” that stirred the founding fathers into revolution are nothing, nothing at all ,compared to the abuses we suffer from our elected government now, and we do it without a murmur.

Would I rather have a bloody coup? Of course not. I suppose it’s something to be proud of, that our nation manages to transfer power peacefully every election. Nobody dies when we throw out one bum and bring in the next. But good grief, I’d like to see more than that. I’d like to see that it’s still possible to bring about change using the system the founders designed, but the gears have become so clogged with money and cronyism, it barely functions (and if you think I’m speaking about any one particular party, you’re blind). When something good happens—when a decent, moderately virtuous candidate does appear, or a sensible bill gets passed, or a monstrous one is defeated, it’s almost like a fluke. We’re the land of ten thousand monkeys, and the democratic process is a typewriter.

That’s where we are now.  We’re standing on a battlefield.  We’ve been engaged in the most horrible thing a country can do:  fighting itself.  At least in the Civil War, it was obvious that that’s what we were doing.  Now we hear the words like “liberty” and “unity” coming out of the mouths of people who despise freedom, who put all of their effort into subverting unity, who see citizens as subjects who must be tamed and gagged and spied on and, if it seems expedient, murdered.

So I can’t hear the Declaration of Independence and feel pride in our country—not today.  But I can hear the Gettysburg Address and take courage.  I can see the struggle and grief of the nation, suffering now as it is, and I can look forward.  If they could recover from that, then we can recover from this.  Those of us who still love the Constitution are the living.  We’re the ones who understand that the country is not great, but it’s not over yet.  It is still, as Lincoln said, “unfinished work.” 

3. Fiddle oak—Little folk

I saw an article about this young photographer awhile back. I can’t recall if I shared it or not. Last week there was a nice write up about him in The Boston Globe: Teen’s images of ‘little folk’ make it big online

Yet his art also feels tinged with melancholy. In “Summer Tales,” he and his sister sit on a popsicle stick raft on a pond at night. Where are they going? Have they been abandoned? In an ominous work called “Inspecting,” a giant hand wielding a magnifying glass looks ready to interrogate a tiny Hoover, or fry him like an ant. Another piece shows him walking through fire as wild as his unruly auburn hair.

“All the pictures have a very lonely feeling to them,” he said. “Even if they have more than one person in them, it’s ‘big world, little people.’”

But the mood isn’t “loneliness out of control,” he added. “It’s loneliness like it’s a beautiful feeling.”

Not surprised he’s homeschooled.

“It helps that “Zevi,” the youngest of four children, was raised in a family of artists, dancers, and mathematicians. Both parents are architects, and his mother, also a glass artist, home schooled Hoover and his three siblings, Jacob, 23, Ian, 21, and Aliza. His interests in photography, technology, origami, music, model airplanes (which he designs and test-flies), even tree climbing are “all sides of the same thing,” he said.”

Would a child who wasn’t homeschooled have the time and freedom to immerse himself in these kinds of projects? Possibly. But certainly not as readily as a homeschooler whose parents see them as an integral part of his education and not as a hobby or distraction.

The productions, too, have become more complicated. One image, “Fly,” featuring a miniature Hoover clinging to a paper airplane in mid-air, involved a three-hour shoot. He suspended paper airplanes from strings, then suspended himself from a pole between two ladders. He then tiled together multiple takes of the large- and small-scale scenes, added shadows and blur effects, and adjusted the color.

“What I am doing always is really quite basic,” he said. “All the techniques stuff is Day 1 Photoshop.”

But to make a fantasy world believable is an arduous process. His mother said he will spend 8 to 10 hours, endlessly tweaking each image until he gets the desired effect.

follow his work on flickr


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  • I have four boys and we have always enjoyed sword fights at our house. If you are interested in durable, safe swords for your kids, check out

    Or Google “Knighthawk Armory” if that doesn’t work.  They are pricey, but the swords look real and if you get the smaller daggers and such, they are perfect for little ones.  And very safe to play with!  A lot of the “foam swords” in the toy stores are either flimsy or have hard cores that can hurt if they are swung hard enough.

  • Again, when I read your blog, I go back down memory lane!  Our younger son, now 19 was obsessed with weapons.  How great were those years in Catholic School when one had to dress as a saint!  During the early years, he was St. Michael the Archangel.  We constructed breast plates from cardboard and wrapped them in aluminum foil.  We hinged them with Velcro. Of course, we created an armored “skirt” with cardboard wrapped in aluminum foil (think picket fence with pointy part facing down).  We made individual sections and cut slits at the top so his belt would pass through.  This kept the “skirt” on.  He wore black shorts beneath.  There was also the obligatory shield and sword.  He wore and played with them…..and we passed it all down to younger cousins when they needed to be outfitted for All Saints Day.  Good time and good memories.

  • Lydia,

    Has Philomena been reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe? Lewis and she agree. (And so do I.)

    I don’t have problem with gun fights either, though we haven’t yet seen any of those. I assume we will in time.

    I figure children are going to play fight, the thing is to channel those impulses into something positive and noble: weapons exist to help the strong protect the weak and the innocent and to defend themselves and others from unjust aggression. I think sword play and gun play are the perfect occasion to begin teaching important lessons about justice and mercy and courage and honor and even prudence and fortitude. This world is a battleground—children understand that instinctively—we’d best teach our kids how to fight the good fight, when and where and how and why and who to fight.

  • Karen, I went to the website, but couldn’t figure out how to download the catalog or how to find prices for any of the items. But they do look very nice.

    Sharon, If I get around to making saints costumes this year St Michael is a distinct possibility. Last year Ben wanted St Benedict but though I bought fabric no sewing ever happened. I must start earlier this year. I’m such a procrastinator!

  • Sword fights are so fun.  My boys are 5 and 3, so we have added two additional rules: 1) we only duel, so the aggressor must call, “En garde!” and the defender must declare that he’s ready, and 2) head shots are absolutely forbidden, and any body hit that leaves a mark is probably going to end the game for the day. 

    I have made a few cardboard swords and shields that have worked nicely for over a year.  I had to strengthen the hilt by taping bamboo skewers along the length of the hilt and blade.  We also have had good luck with plastic foils and broad swords from the Dollar Tree.  Cheap, and untear-worthy when they fall apart.

  • I love the rules for sword-fighting. I have no real problem with playing bang bang shoot ‘em up games, either, as long as it’s good guys versus bad guys. At Philomena’s school, the littles actually play cowboys and Indians during recess some days. But, my little warrior girl can get a bit carried away, so we need guidelines. Funnily, though she plays the Amazon all the time, she doesn’t think girls should fight in real wars. “Only if there’s no one else to do it,” she told me solemnly the other day.