Friday, February 21, 2014

Dandi Lion ..."I want to change my name"

My friend, Colleen Bedore, was inspired to create this wonderful magical story when she saw my painting of
Dandi Lion.
This is a great story to share with children of all ages.
I think it touches the heart of everyone…young
and old and reminds us to appreciate who we are.
We can always find things we would like to change or
don't like about ourselves, but true love
begins when we can accept ourselves
just the way we are inside…at our core.


"I Want to Change My Name"
Did you ever wonder how you got your name and why?  Of course, you might think your parents named you, but maybe, just maybe it was someone else.  It could be a wee fairy, or an angel or the Good Lord himself, but whatever your name is trust that it has a special purpose.
Now, I know that was a very bitter pill for a certain little girl to swallow.  She hated her name; it was stupid, dumb, and just plain icky she thought.  Why, oh why did her parents name her Dandi Lion?  Lion was her last name there was nothing she could do about that, but Dandi?  Really, what were they thinking?
Her Mom had told her that outside her hospital window when she was born was a beautiful field of yellow dandelions and she felt warm and happy when she looked at them.
Weeds, dandelions are weeds why would you name me after a weed she had asked her mother many times.
Dandi was counting the years until she could legally change her name and she prayed for time to fly by.
As it happened, Dandi was in the principle’s office once again for fighting and it was over her name.  The other girl had told her she was a weed and she needed to be plucked.  Dandi saw red and starting swinging…the little girl ended up with a scraped knee and bloody nose.
Mrs. Evergreen brought Dandi into a room off the side of the Principle’s office and pointed to the chair indicating to Dandi that she was to sit down.  She looked down her horn rimmed glasses at Dandi and shook her head, “Tsk, Tsk, Dandi you have such potential, but not with your fists!  You sit here and wait for Mrs. Harlow and whatever you do, don’t go through that closet door.”  With that she left.
Dandi sat very still for a few minutes, but the temptation of wanting to know what was inside that closet was too much for a little girl to take.  First, she got up and crept to the door that Mrs. Evergreen had left through.  There was no sign of anyone; she quietly closed the door and tip toed back to the closet door.  She looked all around the room before she opened the closet door and she could find no light switch as she entered the closet.  As quick as she stepped inside she felt like she was in a giant wind storm.  It took her breath away and she closed her eyes tight.  When she dared to open them she was blinded by the brightness, first it was a bright white light and then it faded to a gentle cotton candy pink.  
What was this place?  It was so beautiful; there were gardens, and babbling brook and a gazebo where she saw other children.  Not wanting to have to introduce herself, because of her name so she started walking down the path.  A red headed girl called out to her “hey, you can’t go down there you have to get into line”
“Line?” Dandi asked.
“Yea, line, you know, you can’t cut” she explained.
“What’s the line for?”
“Come on, you know” 
“No, no I don’t” Dandi said.
“Well, you’re here to change your name aren’t you?” the little girl asked.
“Well, I hate my name, but I thought I had to go to court?” 
The girl laughed, “This ain’t court, that’s for sure.”
“What is this place then?” Dandi asked.
“I don’t know, but when your turn comes you can ask.”
Dandi sat on the bench waiting for her turn.  She was sure she had fallen asleep and this was a dream it had to be.
Dandi watched as woodland creatures, fairies and nymphs came to get the children in line.  She heard one girl complain that her name was Mabel and she didn’t like it one bit.  Dandi thought if only her name was that normal.  Mabel was lead down the path by a talking floppy eared rabbit.  In no time at all Mabel came back and she was all smiles, she came right over to Dandi and said, “Do you know what my name means?  Well, do you?” she asked.
Dandi shook her head no, “It means Mothers always bring extra love.”
Dandi was happy for the little girl and she wondered where she had gone, but figured she would know soon enough.
Dandi was suddenly frightened as a big bumble bee came buzzing up to her and she tried to hide under the bench.  The bumble bee stopped in mid air and crossed his arms, “Hey, why are you afraid I’m your escort.”
Dandi came out from beneath the bench, “Sorry, you’re not going to sting me are you?”
“Are you going to sting me?” Bumbles asked.
“No, that’s silly I’ve got no stinger.” Dandi laughed.
“Ok, then, by the way, I’m Bumbles.”
“I’m Dandi”
“Dandi Lion” he said.  “I love your name, it’s so warm and brave and strong.”
Suddenly, Dandi got mad; this was some place where they try to talk you into liking your name.  She bet her parents and the principle got together and did all of this.  Well, she wasn’t like those other kids and she wasn’t going to fall for it.
“Well, I don’t like my name, it’s stupid, I’m named after a stupid old weed and I will be changing it.  I refuse to be called by it any more do you hear me Bumbles?  And while we’re at it what kind of a name is Bumbles?  You’re a Bumble bee and last time I looked bees don’t have names.  Your name is stupid and so is this place!”
Bumbles turned away for a minute as he wiped a tear from his eye.  He was hurt by her words and he wondered why her soul was so wounded.  He mustered up his courage and stuck out his chest, “I happen to like my name, Dandi Lion and I’m sorry you don’t like yours, but whether you change your name is totally up to you.  However, saying hurtful things to people is just wrong and if you don’t change your ways one day you’ll be very lonely.”
Dandi wanted to say she was sorry but she just couldn’t, at least, not right at that moment.  She continued to follow him in silence.  They passed by field after field of flowers, one more beautiful than the last.  
The last field was a bright yellow, so bright she felt like she needed sunglasses.  As she got closer she thought it might be a field of daffodils or maybe yellow tulips but as Bumbles directed her to a white bench she realized she was surrounded by as far as she could see dandelions!
Funny, she didn’t remember the bench being in the middle of the field, but it was and now there was a man in white robes coming toward her and from the other side of the field there was a lady, the most beautiful lady she had ever seen.
The man sat next to her and he didn’t speak for the longest time.  Dandi didn’t know what to do or say.  She wasn’t scared in fact she was calm and happy.  Then suddenly out of nowhere there was a giant lion nuzzling the man’s arm.  Dandi jumped in fear, she had never been that close to a lion before and she was sure she was about to get eaten.  The man continued to rub the lion’s mane, “Dandi, you do not have to fear Theo here, everyone here is equal and fighting is not allowed.  Dandi bravely reached out as she started to pet his mane.  It was softer than she ever imagined and it sparkled.  “Why is his fur so sparkly?” She asked.  Just as she did she heard giggling Theo spoke, “Petunia, Daffy, Rosie are you playing in my mane again?”  Three tiny fairies appeared on the bridge of Theo’s nose, dancing and giggling.  One of the Fairies said, “There are so many places to hide in Theo’s fur we can play hide and seek for hours.”  Dandi smiled at the Fairies they were the cutest things she had ever seen.  And she loved their names.
After the introductions were made, finally, the man spoke as he pointed across the field to the lady, “That’s my Mom” he said.
“Dandelions are one of her favorite flowers she gets mad when people call them weeds.  I hear you get mad too.”
Dandi, nodded, “People make fun of my name and me.”
“That is hard to deal with isn’t it Dandi?  But I’ve learned over the many years that if you stand up for what you believe you will feel better about a lot of things.”
“Excuse me, but if we can change something to avoid fights shouldn’t we.”
“Oh my Dandi, you are a very smart girl, but if you change everything that might become a problem you’ll stand for nothing.  Do you want to hear something?  Will you indulge me for a moment?”
Dandi wasn’t sure what he was going to do, but the fairies and Theo were nodding that she should listen even though she was sure she would wake up at any time.
The man waved his hands and suddenly Dandi was hearing something from many years ago.  It was the voices of the doctors and nurses in the delivery room.  She heard her father’s voice and it sounded as if he was crying.
“We’re losing both of them” one voice said.
“The heart rate is dropping”
“Save her” it was the cry of her father.
Then it got quite and she heard her mother, “Dear God, I’ve lived my life please spare my baby. I want to stay and raise her, but if I can’t, if that is your will please save my little dandelion, let her grow like a weed, let her be a source of strength for her father and let her grow up to be a wonderful person that I know she can be.”
The man waved his hand again and the voices were gone, “You see Dandi, your mother didn’t really think about your name in her time of weakness she truly only wanted you to grow up to be a good person.” 
He took her hand in his, “You can change your name, but what is important is what your mother sacrificed for you; she saw the beauty in something many call a weed.  I feel very honored that your mother named you after one of my creations.”
Dandi wiped a tear from her eye, “My mommy died?”She asked quietly.
“Almost, but she came back to watch you grow like a weed.” He winked.
Dandi hugged him and asked if she could meet his Mom.  He smiled and nodded.
Before Dandi left she promised that she would become a better person and instead of getting angry she would turn her anger into love.
The man told her that she made him very happy and he knew she would do great things with her life.

Years later, Dandi found herself teaching children that it was ok to be different and in order to love others they must first love themselves.
Dandi never passed by a field of dandelions without stopping and appreciating the true beauty of his creation.
Colleen Bedore

Special Mention to Charlotte Foley Phillips for the inspiration of this character.  Friends are sometimes hard to come by, but when you find a true friend always, always remember they are a treasure from God.

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