"The Elder Bear and the Lost Cub"|
The hunter's snare did not discriminate. Paralyzed by fear, the little bear cub froze as the hunters appeared from out of the shadows.
"Save yourself!" cried the mother bear, as the malevolent figures approached her with no intent of mercy. The trap immobilized her right paw, and the poor bear cub was powerless to prevent his mother's inevitable fate. With tears in his eyes, the bear cub ran through thorns and thickets, sustaining cuts and bruises, and the deeper cut of losing his mother.
The bear cub was alone, and lost. Injured, he could find no refuge, until after a time he stumbled across a pack of bears.
The elder bear was gargantuan, in both appearance and in character. It was obvious that the other bears in the pack were his followers. "What is this, a lost pup?" questioned a bear in the pack, as the others mumbled amongst themselves in curiosity. "What should we do with him, elder?" "Where is his pack?" "If he is without a pack then he was abandoned and should be killed!" The sense of dread grew in the bear cub's already fearful mind.
The elder bear let out a giant roar, "Let the cub live and prove his strength!"
Met with scorn and doubt from the other bears in the pack, the elder bear continued, "I challenge you with a trial of strength: hunt and kill a rabbit by nightfall, and we will take you into our pack!"
The hunt began the moment the bear cub spotted a rabbit. There was no way the bear cub could catch the quick rabbit until, by chance, a stray hunter's snare trap went off, trapping the rabbit's right paw. Paralyzed by fear, the rabbit froze as the bear cub approached, but this time, something different happened. Before, because of fear, the bear cub was blinded, but this time a gentle calm overtook him. Looking into the terrified eyes of the rabbit was like looking into a mirror--a reflection of himself the day he lost his mother.
"Save yourself!" cried the bear cub, as instead of dealing the killing blow, he helped the rabbit go free. The rabbit, released from the trap, ran into the thickets of the wood, never to be seen again.
"He has failed his trial! He could not kill the rabbit by nightfall!" "He is a disgrace for defying your trial, elder!" But the elder bear was curious from the cub's showing of mercy.
"Why did you hunt but not kill the rabbit?" questioned the elder bear.
"I wanted to display a more gentle strength, to save myself by saving others."
The bear cub's words silenced the pack.
"I lost my mother from the same trap. I did not want to inflict the same pain, the same fear on another. I experienced it myself and would not wish it upon another. Sometimes, gentleness is the right thing to do."
The elder bear replied, "You have shown me something that I could not understand. For all of my life I have lived by might and force. But you have shown me through your defiance the power of mercy. The rabbit will reunite with his family because of you, and I will also show you compassion and take you into our pack."
When one challenges another, two learn. For two bears were redeemed that day by their display of gentle strength.