[drawing above: From the Dragon’s Hoard by Shaylynn Rackers]
It was story-time.
My wife and oldest daughter were away for gymnastics practice, and I had just tucked my smallest daughter in her bed. The house was oddly quiet for a home with two strapping little boys at-large. I found them both on the sofa, each of the them reading a book (the 7-yr old was reading; the 4-yr old was staring down at an open text… he sure looked the part).
I wanted to tell them a Bible story, but we suddenly got into a conversation involving squires, knights and dragons. Toy swords (which are always near at hand in our home) were grasped and the 4-yr old narrated a tale about a dragon’s cave with huge bats and a brave squire. When it was my turn for story-time, I held them both in my arms and recounted a tale pieced together from majestic lore of old….
There was once a great King. The greatest of all kings ever to have reigned in those lands. He fought with the courage of a wild beast, looking his enemies in the eyes and never wavering. He was blessed and special, unlike any other ruler. A vow was made that the throne would ever go to one of his sons or grandsons down through the long ages.
—”What was his name?! What was his name?!” asked the 7-yr old, eyes wide open
“Shhh. Just wait…”. I resumed—
Then the people of this kingdom forgot who they were. The great line of kings forgot their ancient father, the fierce and good King of old.
—”Was it Arthur? It was King Arthur wasn’t it?!”
“Shhh. Just wait…”
The people and the kings began to fade away. Other kings, stronger and braver, fought against the people. Captured them. The years passed. The family of the kings all but disappeared. The people lacked hope.
But then—in the Shadows… in the Dark… in the Night—a baby boy came. He was from the family of the great King. But this baby would be the King of all. And one day he would grasp a sword sharper than any other, a sword stronger than any other, and all evil would fly away from his face. And one day he will fight every last dragon, and take their ruler, the great Dragon-Beast, the strongest monster of all, and throw him into the Lake of Fire forever and ever.
—”With all the bad guys?” (my 4-yr old is ever concerned about the “bad guys” getting their due).
“If the bad guys do not serve the the great King but follow the Dragon, then I am afraid they will be in trouble, too.”
Then I asked, “Do you want to know the name of this Greatest King?
“Jesus. And the first king was David.”
Ahhhh, of course! flashed through the still widened eyes of the 7-yr old. “But Dad, there are no dragons in the real world.”
“Are you sure?” (I had been reading an essay by J.R.R. Tolkien earlier in the day).
He was thinking. Wondering. And I explained to him that there be dragons, indeed. But also mighty forces of light and beauty. And we want to serve those good forces, fighting not with fists or swords but with truth and kindness.
The 4-yr old: “I like it when bad guys cry.” He was still delighting in the just end of badness.
“But sometimes,” I offered,” maybe we are the bad guys and don’t know it.” The lines can get blurry at times, can’t they?
And on that note: “Bedtime, guys.”