A LESSON FROM ELEPHANT MATRIARCHS
I am certain that it is no secret to those who follow my Nuggets that I have a deep love and respect for all wildlife but elephant in particular! Having lived among them in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) I was able to interact firsthand with these “gentle giants”. My love and passion grew through my childhood years and into my adult life. I think I have read and assimilated more books, documentaries and discussions on elephant, than the average grandmother!
There are many lessons that can be learned from the Matriarch of the elephant herd.
Come walk with me down the dusty trails in the African bush while a family of elephants become our companions.
In the golden dusk of early evening, the shimmering leaves appear to be dancing their evening waltz. A herd of elephant silently slip into view, puffing up small whirls of dust that appear to hang motionless on the waning breeze. The matriarch, her large and noble head held high, swings her trunk back and forth. She is at one with the peace that only early evening can bring. Despite her giant size, she has the lightness and grace of a ballet dancer. Her fluid movements ooze with confidence as she leads her herd into the darkening shadows of early evening. They follow her through the swirling dust along the well-worn game trail. Their survival depends on her guidance and they trust her completely as she has led them for many years. They are a cohesive group of females and their adorable babies of varying sizes.
The matriarch, along with her daughters, have “assisted” with many births; forming an impenetrable wall of muscle and tusks around the cow in labor. The birth of a calf causes much excitement in the herd as they encompass the newborn with joy: a cacophony of trumpeting screams and rumbles shred the air. All the females welcome and encourage the newborn to get onto its feet. An elephant’s emotional attachment to their family members rivals many human families!
The mother elephants in the herd must provide the +-250 pound newborn with milk. Like all mothers, her newborn is a precious seed and it will never grow unless nourished and nurtured. In the elephant world, the newborn will be raised within this warm and caring environment, learning life skills from all the females in the Matriarchal herd. Young aunties or elder siblings will take on babysitting duties and model all important behavior for their development; preparing them for the responsibilities of ‘Motherhood’ if they are female calves. These young elephant calves learn how to become independent by watching and mimicking the others. They are nurtured and loved by all the members of the herd as they grow and develop.
The information passed down over generations is imperative to their survival. Discipline is necessary for unruly youngsters who will receive a cuffing from one of the elders’ trunks to keep them in line. To survive, they need to be team players. They have learnt all the right skills and they use them effectively. The matriarch has taught them clear roles within the herd such as; communications, co-operation, respect for one another, decision making and the art of skillful reconciliation. All these lessons ensure cohesive bonding between the elephants. When in crisis, they will trust and follow the matriarch who has earned their respect, and she will not rule by force or fear but by loving example. Her impeccable memory serves them well.
Once night falls and the darkness deepens, two adult cows stand like sentries in the place the matriarch has chosen for the night’s rest. The “sentries” large ears flap gently fanning the warm and heavy night air. The long night lies before them; this is the time when hungry predators roam but the elephant calves are safely tucked in the center of the herd protected by powerful legs, trunks and lethal tusks.
As the crimson light invades the darkened horizon with the coming of dawn, a sense of anticipation for the new day glides with gentle fingers over the resting herd. With a low frequency purr that you can feel rather than hear, the herd rouse themselves, their need for food fueling them on. They stir and look to their matriarch to make the first move. Thanks to their courageous leader, this family of elephants has lived to face another day.
Now let me lead you down a different path; one that will determine your eternal destiny. First let me ask you a question: Have you ever tried to fathom the essence of God?
We have so many images of God, some are a result of our culture, our upbringing (or lack of it), our limited human understanding, our positive or negative experience with authority and I could suggest many more sources.
Then there are those who have plumbed the depth of God’s essence, in their relationship with Him and found the priceless attribute that makes God Who He is!
What is that priceless essence? It is HIS NEVER ENDING LOVE.
Think about this: water must be wet and a fire must be hot. You can’t take the wet out of water and still have water! So too, you can’t take the heat out of fire and still have fire.
In the same way, you can’t take the love out of God and still have Him exist……FOR HE WAS….AND IS….AND WILL BE LOVE!
Let me challenge you dear friends…probe deep within Him. Explore every corner. Search every angle and I assure you LOVE is all you will find, shining in its many facets.
Go to the beginning of every decision He has made and you will find His love in that decision.
Go to the end of every circumstance He walked you through and you will see His love woven and shining even in the darkest of days.
Simply LOVE! No bitterness……. No evil…….. No cruelty……. JUST LOVE!
Flawless love……….Passionate love………………Vast and pure love.
YES, GOD IS LOVE and you can trust your days to Him!
1 John 4:16 (NKJV) “ And we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.”
Credit: Photo by Ann Warner Wildlife Photography at Imire, Zimbabwe