It took the him by surprise.
He had not before today seen himself as an old lion. Now looking out at the pride, he knew the journey of his life had taken another turn. This one, like few others, was startling and unexpected. Another blind turn.
That cub bore an amazing resemblance to him…and for the moment the old lion was transformed back to the days when the cub watched and imitated his every step. He remembered the delight of their first successful hunt, and the momentary fear the day his own battle for leadership in the pride was nearly lost. In fact, the unspoken truth was that the small spectator watching so intently had spurred him on to fight and win. The old lion had known that passivity was a life stealing habit, the cub had know that to fight with all one’s might was necessary for survival.
Middle age lions have little time for nostalgia. He snapped himself back to the present and watched as the cub, who was now the young lion, battled for and earned his place among his mates. He marveled at the young one’s guile, and saw how it enhanced his strength and power. And he knew.
The lessons would soon end. The day would arrive. The fight would come. He and the cub would by necessity be adversaries for a time. There would in the end be mercy, but the son would be hardened, never again to be the cuddly bounding ball of fur of days gone by.
The young lion would need to have his own pride, and earn his place on that rock. There were dangerous days ahead. Those battles would be for the young lion alone-because the journey would then be his.
At that, the old lion smiled through his sorrow. The smile was the contentment of knowing he had prepared his offspring. The sorrow was his understanding about how the scars would accumulate, and that he would soon be hunting alone.