The Panther who Jumped over the Moon. You might have heard the story. It is very old. So old indeed, you have to listen closely, just before you fall asleep, or when the firewood crackle, or when grace touches your heart at that exact moment you thought you were utterly alone and realize - just as the sun-rays of dawn (or sun-rays of dusk, or rays of moonlight, or starlight - it matters not) touches the surface of the coffee in your coffee-cup (or the surface of your tea, your water, your wine, your rum -it matters not ) - that you might have heard the tale. But if this has not happened to you lately, this is how the story goes.
Panther was black and fiercesome. No one hunted like him, no animal was his like in stalking, sneaking and moving like a shadow, no one's bite was as strong. For a long time Panther took pride in his superior abilities. To be honest, why shouldn't he?
One day Panther was resting by the river, sun-dappled fur warm and sleek as he gloriously licked sweet blood drops from his paws. Suddenly, he heard movements in the grass, small flickery movements, nothing for him to be concerned with, this was to small a prey for him. He also heard chatter. Mice chatter.
"Listen," said one mouse quite high-pitched. "I know you're adventurous, but this is just silly. You cannot reach the moon, even in that ridiculous suit."
Panther pierced his yellow eyes and saw, to his surprise, a mouse dressed in a feather suite, carrying a kite over his head.
"Of course I can," said the brave, little mouse, "anyone can do anything he sets his mind to. Anyway, how will you know if you haven't tried."
Panther watched as the strange mouse started to climb a tall pine tree. The feathers got caught, the mouse struggled with his kite, but somehow managed to keep climbing, while his mouse friend watched nervously from the ground. Panther was curious now, holding his breath when the mouse swayed, cleansing and un-cleansing his paws when the mouse lost his grip and got hold again. Watching intently as the mouse climbed higher and higher up in the pine tree. Finally,the mouse reached the top of the pine tree, and it just so happened that the moon rose in this moment, full and round, quivering like a welcoming mother, illuminating the mouse from behind as he stood high on the highest branch of the great pine.
“Here I go!” yelled the mouse in the tree and threw himself out. “Here I gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo ….”
He fell like a leaf, or perhaps like a small stone would fall, would the stone for some reason decide to throw himself out of a high tree. The mouse landed in a soft, wet pile of buffalo poo. The mouse waiting on the ground put his small paws over his mount, while Panther held his breath. There wasn't a sound to be heard in the forest until the brave little mouse started howling and spitting buffalo poo out of his mouth. “Hey! That was fun!” he exclaimed. “Though it didn't work,”he continued, a bit more subdued, looking longingly up on the moon.
“Oh, don't think about it,” said his loyal friend, as he ruched forward and helped his friend up to his feet. “I've heard from the most dependable sources, that not even Panther can jump all the way to the moon.” He put an arm around the brave, little mouse, ignoring broken feathers and poo as well.
Panther watched them walk away. Soon he was alone with the moon hovering over the pine tree as his only company. From that day, nothing felt quite the same for Panther.
Stalking and moving like a shadow still had its joy. How could it not? Crushing bones, the delicious flavor of meat and blood still created surges of excitement through Panther's body. Still, ever so often, Panther found himself resting his head on his paws at night, staring longingly at the moon.
As time went by Panther's movements became slower, the strength of his bite weaker and white hairs grew around his whiskers, showing age. One night he fell asleep, his fur illuminated by the light of an especially pregnant, full moon. It just so happened that he was on that same riverbank where the brave little mouse had tried to fly. The moon was hanging over that same pine tree, that now was even higher and prouder. Panther woke up seeing the moon hanging there. “Now or never,” he thought, not sure where the thought came from. Neither did he fully understand this new strength that filled him. He rose and felt better than he had in his most vigorous days. He leaped up the pine tree, dug his claws deep into the bark as he went up, and up, until he finally got to the top and there he …. jumped. Like he never jumped before.
He flew threw the sky, not to, but over the moon, stars were flashing around him. “Oh, yes,” said Panther as he found his way, as he stalked and moved like a shadow among the stars. And the moon smiled gently beneath him.
Picture: Courtesy of Pixabay free download.