A Lion Named Christian

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed my affection for drama-free programming. And by drama free, I’ll cut to the chase: I spent the last couple of hours watching Animal Planet.

Initially I tuned into it because nothing else looked appealing. Nothing good was on Food Network. The Golden Girls weren’t on. I would’ve watched The Shawshank Redemption, but I did that the last two nights since it’s been on for the last 48 hours. No programs that showcased wedding dresses, nothing decent on VH1C and I wasn’t in the mood for The Weather Channel.

I came across something called The Secret Life of Elephants, and it was beyond amazing. Seriously — you need to watch it. I’m not even going to try to describe it, because you’ll just end up thinking, “Wow! This sounds great! I must watch it!” So, just watch it. Trust me on this one.

After that, the next hour-long show was A Lion Named Christian.

W. O. W.

Has anyone seen this? Why have I never heard of this story before? Two Australian men in London buy a lion cub from Harrods in 1969, try to raise it in the city, do remarkably well until the cub starts growing like a weed — at which time the men try to find a better, more suitable environment for Christian. Christian is ultimately accepted into a Kenyan compound where he’s reintegrated into the wild by a conservationist.

Long story short, the men leave Christian in Kenya, miss him dearly and return a year later to see how he’s doing — only to be met by the biggest, warmest welcome they could’ve imagined. After a hesitant approach, Christian remembers his two owners. If he was a human, he would’ve jumped into their arms. He did the next best thing, and stood on his hind legs giving them lion kisses and “hugging” them both, his massive paws on their shoulders.

It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in a long time. It left me in tears (I seem to be doing a lot of crying lately…cat passing away, best friend moving to NJ, Christian the Lion…what next?) and it made me think of those people in our lives who are so important that even after going a year, or possibly more, without seeing them, their presence makes us want to practically jump into their arms.

Usually we just settle for giving them the biggest, most amazing hug ever.

Either way, tonight I am grateful for those people whose presence will always inspire a flood of joy, whose arms will always be made for leaping into and whose spirit will never be extinguishable.

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