We are exploring the two main causes of anger: arrogance and lack of spiritual awareness. We now continue with our story of the Prancing Buck:
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Crack! Dat-dat-dat! Snap, pop, crack! The clatter of Dandy's antlers clashing with the tree branches resounds through the forest like the staccato of machine-gun fire. The challenger's ostentatious antlers are nearly four feet wide, yet the trail is barely two feet wide. Simple arithmetic reveals that each massive oak and hickory tree - not to mention the surrounding vines, bushes, and undergrowth - is a potential obstacle to a vain stag whose inflated ego is even bigger than his antlers.
Dandy gets knocked around from tree to tree like an erratic billiard ball. A low hickory branch snaps, and whiplashes the fuming young stag across the face. Dandy cringes at the pain, and ducks his head. Suddenly, a second branch snaps, and recoils like a bullwhip across his tail and thighs. The young deer jumps in alarm and his blood pressure skyrockets.
Like all other arrogant creatures, Dandy can't see the truth. He forgets about the real challenge at hand, and follows the futile dictates of his uncontrollable temper. He declares war on all the trees in the forest, especially on the oak tree directly in front of him.
"OK oak, you're finished!" he threatens. "In two minutes, you're going to be firewood!" Dandy takes a running start, and butts the thirty-inch-thick hardwood with his antlers. The oak doesn't budge.
"Get out of my way, you deciduous dimwit!" Dandy forgets that the oak has been standing in its own rightful spot for the last eight-five years, minding its own business. He himself is the intruder. Dandy takes another running start, and butts the tree a second time. Not even an acorn falls from the tree. The fuming red-faced stag makes a third attempt to fell the massive oak, without even scratching the tree's bark. Dandy's head begins to throb.
An owl calls down from the top of the tree: "Who, who, who's going to lose? The king just passed you by!"
A startled Dandy watches Zachary disappear in the thicket up ahead. Desperately, the challenger returns to the trail and begins a new sprint, but entangles himself in a labyrinth of vines. The more he tugs, the more his predicament worsens. He hasn't even completed half the course. He hates the sour taste of the leathery vines, but he has no choice: His only chance is to eat his way to freedom. "Wait 'til I cut loose", he continues to threaten, "I'm going to burn this whole forest!"
In the eight minutes that Dandy wrestles with the vines, eating and biting his way to freedom, Zachary covers another four miles at his modest but steady pace of thirty miles per hour. The tables are turning, and the crows are now cawing ten-to-one in favor of Zachary.
The birds, chipmunks, squirrels, and raccoons find Dandy's war with the forest most amusing. Even the bats awaken from their daytime slumber for a first-hand look at the action. The beloved trees are their home; hearing Dandy hurl all sorts of unrepeatable epithets at the trees sorely insulted them at first. But now, watching the haughty stag get knocked from tree to tree emits cries of glee from the treetop spectators.
Have you ever heard a chipmunk giggle or a raccoon laugh? Hundreds of them chiding the frustrated stag from above add considerable insult to the young stag's sorely injured ego.
It never occurs to Dandy, blind in arrogance and burning with anger at every tree in the forest, that the source of his pride - his antlers - is his biggest enemy.
"Hey, silly stag," yells an owl, "if you cut off your antlers, you'll be able to traverse the forest in peace, too."
Such an idea never occurred to the conceited young buck; were he modest, he'd have trimmed his antlers long ago. If his antlers were trimmed, he could have traversed the forest in peace. Yet, if he had sense enough to trim his antlers, he'd have never challenged Zachary in the first place. Now, he'll have to suffer the full consequence of his arrogance and resulting anger.
Dandy reaches the finish line at Beaver Creek dizzy, disoriented, with cracked and broken antlers, a sore neck, and a migraine headache. His time is a full ten minutes slower than Zachary's.
Jonathan and the other officiating deer send Dandy into forced exile. His face is never again seen within a thirty-mile radius of Zachary's kingdom. Venerable King Zachary, the dignified yet unassuming veteran of countless challenges by senseless vain stags, returns home to his clearing amid the applause of thousands of ecstatic furred and feathered admirers.
Zachary doesn't focus on the throngs of well-wishers. He knows that his own limited abilities weren't sufficient to defeat Dandy.
Zachary takes these precious moments of glory, and presents them like a sacred gift to God: "You deserve the praise and glory, my Father in Heaven, not me," attributing his victory to Divine intervention.
The venerable venison monarch closes his eyes, while his heart sends a silent prayer of thanksgiving to his Creator: "Though I walk through the valley of death, I shall not fear, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff - they comfort me. You have set my table before my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil - thank You, God. Who would have believed that a decrepit old buck like me could withstand a challenge from a swift young stag in his prime? Blessed are You, my Lord, Who uplifts the meek and topples the arrogant."
To be continued…