Never give up

A Christian Science perspective on daily life.

The scene, at least the opening moments of it, couldn't be more peaceful. A herd of about 100 African buffalo meanders quietly along a riverbank. Rather than traveling in a tightknit group to assure their safety, the herd scatters itself along several hundred yards of riverfront. The lead bull is on his own, well out in front. What he doesn't see is the pride of lions straight ahead. He continues to unknowingly draw his herd straight into the trap. The lions crouch. They watch. And then – they attack! The buffalo spin around and break, helter-skelter, into open stampede.

Lightning fast, the pride closes in, targeting a calf trailing the rest of the herd. In seconds they bring him down, tumbling with him into the river.

The lions battle to drag the calf up the bank. Almost unimaginably, he's still fighting back. Suddenly, a crocodile, evidently lurking nearby below the river surface, launches his own attack. He clamps onto the calf's hind legs, even as the lions try to haul him up the bank. Finally, the croc concedes, and the lions get their prey on dry land.

Suddenly the herd of buffalo charges back onto the scene. With his powerful horns, the lead bull catches and then flips one of the cats into the air. The pride breaks up, each one fleeing for safety. Then, the calf hops to his feet and trots into the security and protection of the herd.

An amateur photographer caught the sequence, and the video has been posted on YouTube.

The calf's trial resounds with the message: Never give up. Even in extreme moments, the calf did not concede. Neither did his herd.

The calf's battle and the herd's assist have become to me a metaphor for countless struggles taking place around the globe. Struggles of individuals battling seemingly hopeless odds against disease or drug abuse, against poverty or tyrannical treatment. Struggles of regions or whole nations combating famine or drought or pandemics or corrupt leadership.

The message of "never give up" applies to a multitude and to the whole planet. It also applies to a single individual.

Some years ago I knew a woman who taught me in her quiet way to never quit no matter how long seem the odds against healing. In her mid-90s at the time we met, she had then been blind in one eye for 20 years. She reached out for healing through spiritual means. Although I never asked, I always assumed she'd prayed for this healing many times before.

I was in awe at her desire and her expectancy. I even secretly wondered if someone her age might think, "What difference does it make now? I can get by." But she wasn't reasoning that way at all. She wasn't giving up. She wasn't giving in to the notion that anything other than God, divine Life and Love, was in complete control. She was still interested, not only in healing but in growing spiritually. In a matter of days, praying mostly with the Lord's Prayer, she was healed.

While she has since passed on, she was going strong past 100. (Her healing, in her own words, is in an article in the Christian Science Sentinel, July 2, 1990, p. 17.)

A passage from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science, is particularly reassuring: "Remember, thou canst be brought into no condition, be it ever so severe, where Love has not been before thee and where its tender lesson is not awaiting thee. Therefore despair not nor murmur, for that which seeketh to save, to heal, and to deliver, will guide thee, if thou seekest this guidance" ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pp. 149-150).

Every glimpse of Life and Love equips us to carry forward the campaign for healing and renewal instead of giving up. Every glimpse fosters hope for the individual and for humanity. I expect I'll remember that nature video for a long time to come. I hope I'll recall its message even longer.

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