Sometimes, God flings black bears to get our attention.
Let me explain … our family lived, for a time, in Red River, New Mexico. Red River just happens to be in the middle of the Carson National Forest, which just happens to be in the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, nestled into the foot of the Rocky Mountains. The forest is a sanctuary for squirrels, wild ducks, ravens the size of our cat, raccoons who could take on German Shepherds … and black bears.
In the fall of 2003, little had grown on the mountains due to severe drought conditions and the town required year round residents to take classes about handling wildlife scavenging for whatever food they could find. As the summer tourist season ended and we found we could catch our breath in preparation for ski season, we started to have family movie nights. On one such occasion, our two-year-old daughter looked out the front picture window.
“Bee-uh. Bee-uh!” She pointed to the blacktop parking area in front of the house.
I thought she had mistaken a giant raccoon for a bear, so I walked to the window for a peek and to put her young mind at ease. Sure enough, a large black bear sauntered in front of the house.
That’s when we called Manny, an officer with the Fish and Game Department. He gave us some ‘special firecrackers’ (more properly termed concussion bombs, as found out when we lit one later), and advised us to make lots of noise. Not a problem in a house with three young children! Manny assured us he could be at our place within minutes if needed. Sill, I felt I needed to prepare a game plan to protect my family and receive the ‘Hero of the Year’ award.
Each night, I mentally rehearsed my choreography. As soon as that bear broke through the kitchen door, I would leap up, barricade our son in his room, grab a dining room chair, execute a perfect pirouette and knock that bear for a loop! This would give me enough time to turn back around, grab the portable phone and pitch it to my husband, who would then dial 911 as he sat in awe at my grace and quick-thinking. I would bound into the girls’ room and scoop both of them up at the same time - from separate beds, at separate sides of the room, mind you - and then hustle them into the safety of the garage. With my charges safe and my home to defend, I would bravely turn and face the bear.
Sleep came easier knowing I would be a hero, but before I began to write my acceptance speech for the award, I learned an important lesson.
Two weeks after the initial bear sighting, our family again gathered in the living room. We heard scratching claw sounds and watched the cat flee in terror from her perch in the picture window. That poor feline shed half her body weight in fur and feces as she streaked across the room to hide under a bed. I mustered serious bravado, still thinking of that hero of the year award, and pulled back the curtain. I was face to face with a huge black bear. Twin yellow tags in his right ear implicated him as a repeat offender.
Still clutching the curtain, I turned to my husband, who already had the ‘special firecrackers’ in his hand, and whispered, “Bee-uh. Bee-uh! There’s a bee-uh!”
I shook and cried and somehow, my speech resembled that of my two year old! I knew then that I would have to forego the hero of the year award.
No matter how much I rehearsed for when the rubber met the road – or in my case, for when the bear appeared – I realized that no preparation on my part ever replaces the hand of God separating me from the bears. I could take classes, stock up on ‘special firecrackers’, or come up with my own plan, but I could not fully anticipate, nor prevent, any bad or scary thing that might come my way. Instead, I simply need to rest in the idea … and completely believe in my heart … that God is in control. God always trumps five hundred pound black bears.
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