It is 4:27 a.m on the third morning of the eighth month. The dark night sky punctuated by the glitter of the stars hangs like a curtain. The matriarch of the lion’s pride circles the fire, a subtle signal to the other lionesses to join her for the annual ritual of telling the story. The old lioness begins.
“Grandmother Lion was born into a pride that feared her roar. Thinking something was wrong with her, she feared her roar too. So she kept it to herself.”
“She went to school with other young lions. When she roared it sounded funny and they laughed at her. So she kept her roar to herself.”
“She went to college with animals of all shapes and sizes. Her roar sounded strange to them and they ignored her. So she kept her roar to herself.”
“Grandmother Lion got a job and there she observed other lions and tigers and hyenas making their sounds. She learned from the leaders how to roar like they roared. She roared their roars. All the while, keeping her unique roar to herself.”
“After years of roaring an unnatural roar Grandmother Lion was not at peace and she went to the shaman. He said to her, ‘Your roar is not holy. Say these prayers, do these works, and you will find peace.’ After years of praying the prayers and doing the works, she did not find peace, and she kept her roar to herself.”
“Grandmother Lion discovered a guru who invited her to roar her true roar. Although rusty and weak, she roared from her heart. The guru encouraged her more and with practice, Grandmother Lion’s roar sounded more and more authentic. Then, one day, the guru said, ‘You roar too much and it drowns me out. Please stop it.’ Once again, she kept her roar to herself.”
“Grandmother Lion found companionship with another where she felt great hope and promise. She thought, ‘Here is where my roar shall be heard.’ For eight years she would roar with her mate, but her roar was too scary, too strange, and too loud. So, she kept it to herself.”
“One day, feeling defeated, Grandmother Lion quit her job, renounced her religion, and left her companion. There was no place and no one on the whole of the earth who could hear her roar. In silence, she walked into the desert to find refuge in solitude amongst the rocks. There she slept for 8 days and 8 nights.”
“During her sleep, Grandmother Lion dreamt of being impregnated by the world and feeling the girth of a new universe growing in her belly.”
The old lioness slows her pace around the fire and gazes toward the eastern horizon. The other lionesses— both young and old, begin to stir. They know their part is coming, and they ready themselves for the herald.
“Just before the ninth dawn, Grandmother Lion wakes with gentle ease. She pulls herself up on her feet and stares to the east. At first light, she roars but it’s barely a squeak. The sun continues its ascent, and Grandmother Lion roars once again, it’s louder and stronger. She roars and roars and roars— for the pain, for the silence, for the loss, for the joy, for the delight. Day breaks and her roars continue, they reverberate throughout the land like a long awaited call to others who have forsaken their roar and they come. They come by the thousands and they roar loudly and proudly without shame or guilt.”
The lioness faces the east and light is but a whisper beyond the horizon. She lets forth a deep, wise, and authentic roar that signals the rest of the gathering to join in the chorus. The sun rises, burning away the indigo of the night. The chorus of roars crescendos in perfect harmony with the rising of the sun.
© 2016 Meghan Rivard. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted and published with permission of the author.