Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Why Lions?

My wife was curious this morning about why I chose to refer to lions in my recent post about the Black Men's Gathering New England. What's the significance? The reason I chose the reference to lions is that the image of a lion, noble, majestic, powerful, offers a contrast to the frequent association of black males with "dogs" that has become so popular (why is anyone's guess). These "dogs" bark loudly in the popular culture and in the consciousness of people of all backgrounds as their version of black masculinity is promoted day and night across the planet. The men of the Gathering are offering an alternative image of what a black man can be which is about our nobility, not the tiresome negative stereotype. These men are striving to become lions of God. There are numerous references to lions in the Baha'i Writings:

Should it be God's intention, there would appear out of the forests of celestial might the lion of indomitable strength whose roaring is like unto the peals of thunder reverberating in the mountains.(Baha'u'llah, Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 197)

Souls of dogs and wolves go separately, But the soul of the lions of God is one. [1](Abdu'l-Baha, Quoting Rumi, The Secret of Divine Civilization, p. 74)

Arise thou at present...with the power of the Kingdom, with a divine confirmation, with a genuine zeal and ardour and with a flame of the love of God. Roar like unto a lion and exhibit such ecstasy and love among these few souls that praise and glorification may continuously reach thee from the divine Kingdom and mighty confirmations may descend upon thee.(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 102)

Heroes are they, O my Lord, lead them to the field of battle. Guides are they, make them to speak out with arguments and proofs. Ministering servants are they, cause them to pass round the cup that brimmeth with the wine of certitude. O my God, make them to be songsters that carol in fair gardens, make them lions that couch in the thickets, whales that plunge in the vasty deep.(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 225)

The imagery of the lion is all about spiritual power, a power I associate with the men of the Black Men's Gathering.