I had the opportunity to spend some time home with mom this week and on one particular afternoon which found her dozing peacefully, I turned on a movie thinking I'd drift off into a peaceful nap time, as well. It was the remake of Jungle Book and I had not yet seen it. Within minutes, although my eyes were drowsy and my mind was exhausted from having to deal with medical issues for mom, I found myself unable to doze. The story just captured my attention and there I was, desperately in need of some rest, but enthralled in the imagery and story before me. As you may know the story, the "man cub" was adopted by a pack of wolves. I am not sure how he developed all his ability to talk with the wolves, tigers, leopards, and birds, but he could. He lived among them and actually was viewed as "one of them" until one day a very old and scarred tiger named Shere Khan came upon the scene to challenge him. Shere Khan was old and bitter, having been left scarred by the burns he received while killing the father of this boy much earlier in the story. He was angry, manipulative, and vindictive - three very common traits of anyone who allows bitterness to take root.
As the story went on, the boy finds himself fleeing to save his life - at least that is what he thought he'd do by escaping the "nearness" to such a bitter and angry opponent. The trouble is that no matter how much we think we distance ourselves from bitter people, they have a way of finding us! They have some kind of "bitterness radar" that just helps them hone in on our location and they do so because they think they are going to destroy our lives through their bitterness. The real potential of them doing this is pretty minimal, though, because it is hard for one who is rooted well to produce the same fruit as one who has his or her roots deeply embedded in the soil of bitterness. It isn't so much that they cannot wreak havoc in our lives by their bitter shenanigans and hurtful deeds, it is that they cannot change where it is we find our rooting! That place of rooting is what will determine the fruit we bear even faced with the awfulness of the bitterness and anger around us.
In case you haven't seen or read The Jungle Book, I will not spoil the plot or give you the ending, but know this - it is a good story for all of us to consider for it speaks to several values we might do well to consider:
- Family is not so much determined by birth as much as it is determined by nurture. Those wolves nurtured the young boy, helping him to always remember the value of others - the power of the "pack", so to speak. The relationship he formed with those other members of the pack was so important - constantly remembering we were not to pursue our own devices, but be mindful of the needs and feelings of others around us.
- There is a place and time for new experiences. The young boy made new friends as he fled for his life, some which thought they could manipulate him to get him to do as they wished. Yet, in the end, they discovered they valued each other - not because of what they could "get" from one another, but because together they were better than when they stood alone.
- The fruit we bear is directly related to the root we cultivate. There is no changing the fruit until we change the root! Just sayin!