The Ethiopian Woman and the Lion

In Ethiopia, a man and a woman, both widowed and still young, met and fell in love. They decided to start a new family together. However, a problem arose: the man has a little boy who is still full of sorrow over his mother’s death.

The child is hostile toward the new wife and rejects her as a mother. She prepares special dishes for him, sews him lovely clothes, tries always to be kind. But he does not even speak to her, and thus completely shuts her out.

She goes to a shaman: “What can I do to be accepted as mother?” The sorcerer is very clever -he finds the answer to every problem, and everyone has faith in him.

“Come back to me with three lion’s whiskers,” he tells her. The woman is incredulous. How can anyone take three whiskers from a lion without being devoured?

“Come back with three lion’s whiskers!” the shaman repeats.

The woman looks for a lion. It takes a long time, but at last she finds one. She keeps her distance -it looks so frightening. For a long time, she just watches it from afar. It comes and
goes. She waits and waits. Then the woman decides to offer it food. Getting a bit closer, she leaves some meat and goes away. Every day she does the same. Gradually the lion gets used to her, till finally the woman is part of its life. The lion is calm with the woman -by now it knows it can expect only good things from her -and she is less afraid. One day, when the lion is
asleep, she removes the three whiskers. Easy.

The woman does not need to return to the shaman. Now she understands. During these months, she has changed. She has understood the value of patience. With the child she does the same as with the lion. She waits faithfully and approaches him little by little, respecting his tempo and his territory, without invading him but without giving up on him, either. In the end, the child accepts her as his mother.

This woman has won the child’s heart with her patience.

Piero Ferrucci

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