Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Bear Whisperer!

The picture on today's blog is that of a black bear we saw in the town of Estes, Colorado, in August this year.

Some of you may think, "No big deal."

Not I. I have a fear, a phobia, of two things in this world: Sharks, and yes, bears. Of course, this complicates my two favorite ways to vacation: being on the shore of the ocean and hiking in the mountains.

I wasn't always afraid. In college, after seeing the movie, "Jaws," I never went swimming in the ocean again. Lakes are just fine with me, even though I can image the large catfish and snakes all too easily as I ski and swim.

Like sharks, bears became something to fear as well. My husband is an avid hiker. How many times he has watched "Jeremiah Johnson," I can not reveal to you. I lost count. I, too, enjoy hiking in the woods and the mountains, until I saw a National Geographic special about bear attacks.

Our last hike in the mountains, I made my husband take every single precaution: bear mace, bear bells to announce our coming (anything worse than a surprised female bear? I don't think so.), cooking our food away from the tent, food in canisters roped high in the trees, changing clothes after cooking to avoid smelling like the food I knew I was for bears....

Notice I said, our LAST hike in the mountains in that previous paragraph. Really, it was my last hike. I should have known not to agree with my husband after a beautiful day in the Colorado mountains when he announced it was time to put up our camp in a place called, BEAR PAW MEADOW!

When I asked him about the name carved into a wooden sign, he replied in his geography major voice(like speaking to a chid), "The shape of this meadow resembles a bear paw, see?" I admit, it sounded logical.

That night, alone with my husband in the woods, away from civilization of any kind, I enjoyed seeing deer watch us at our campfire. My husband decided not to tell me about the mother bear and her two cubs he spied at the nearby stream. I slept comfortably in our small tent.

The next day, we broke camp. I did not put my contacts in because we were in a hurry. As we hiked in the fresh mountain air, my confidence and thrill at surviving a night in the mountains soared. I looked nearby in the meadow and saw a large brown back. Excitedly, I called to my husband to see what I thought was yet another dear.

Until it stood up. Its large tongue swiped its lips as it sniffed the air for my scent.

All the advice from the forest ranger left my mind as I ran, bear bell clanging on my pack. Instead of warning the bear I was coming, I felt I was calling the bear, "Dinner time, come and get it, dinner bell!"

My poor husband had just turned on the trail to return to me to see the deer when I plowed into him shouting, "RUN, BEAR!" He ran after to me to calm me down.

Fortunately, the bear did not think my panicky antics worth investigating.

You can imagine how the remaining three days were spent for my poor husband as he kept assuring me of my safety high in the mountains.

You see, no amount of preparation had kept me from being around a bear. It also appears that since that hike, whereever my husband goes hiking and I wait elsewhere for him while he does, he never encounters a bear. I DO! When in Yosemite at the hotel pool, a bear lumbers by me.

When shopping in Estes while my husband hikes, a bear perches in the tree above the restaurant.

Perhaps God is trying to work on this fear I have developed. Perhaps the bears are just having a great time when I am in town.

When I saw the bear in the picture above this past summer, however, I was intrigued with what was going to happen to him. The police were gathered around the base of the tree. The bear had been resting above the diner for several hours. Tourists crowded the street craining their necks to watch.

So I asked, "What will happen to the bear?" The answer surprised me.

I was told that a Bear Whisperer was on his way. This special man would help guide the bear around two in the morning, after we were asleep, through the town and back to the mountains without any harm.

Meanwhile, the bear had to wait. Wait for us to become tired and leave.

The tables of fear were turned I realized. The bear was afraid of me, of us. He was up a tree, out on a limb, and now had to wait for the Bear Whisperer to rescue him.

How similar to my own life. No matter how much I try to control my situation or how much I think I am in control, I often create more problems by trying to control life. I can end up a tree, out on a limb, waiting for God to rescue me once again.

God doesn't have to yell His direction either. He speaks in small whispers, guiding me gently the way I should go.

In the meantime, like the bear, I wait. I wait upon the Lord for the plans He has for me are for good.

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