(Thoughts from a true Incident in the Great Smokey Mountains near Mt. LeCont 1971 while hiking the AT)
As his cold fingers bent creakily and tried to pull the laces of his boots, a sudden caaaarack from behind him awakening the feeling of being watched that has been there all day. Not just watched, but more like an icy finger of fear that races ahead of sudden horror!!!! It was a heavy heaving big long crack of a very large branch, not just a stick. Slowly, ever so slowly he turns still looking down, knowing it is something that he doesn't want to see, something he hopes to be invisible to, but knowing it involves him and cannot be dismissed . All previous sounds had ceased, only his heart beat could be heard, and his breath, !!! no not HIS breath but.. WHOSE? !!! Massive black clawed feet appear out of the corner of his vision. Causality looking up he stares at a massive bear!! A great cazum of a mouth with jaws open, gaping, but.. is it ?casually like a yawn?. It is the biggest bear he'd ever seen, and never had seen one from so close that you could feel his breath on your face. Save me, O God, for the waters have almost taken my life. I have gone down into deep mud and there is no place to put my feet. Psalm 69
It had been 40 days on the trail, actually 40 days and 40 nights to the hour and he was washing up to enjoy the sunset. Listening in wonder at the beauty all around ?us?. The babbling from the spring nearby, the birds chattering away in the trees, the evening crickets, the frigid water had called him to start the next section of the trail all freshened up. But with it's beady black eyes fixed on him, it stares, not a general stare, and not a stare at his eyes, but more a stare of curiosity at a specific point just under his chin... then he realized, it must be a curiosity of the soap bubbles continue to drip from his beard and down onto the leaves.
Isn't it funny how we humans are? Even in a moment of calm, fear, doubt, anxiety and black clouds suddenly loom up and appear, with claws that could destroy our future (or in this case we'd become a part of someone else's dreams of fulfillment). Day dreaming we too late see the light is yellow and narrowly escape an accident
To late we walk into a meeting to find that others have questions we are not prepared for To late we see that our distractedness has hurt others we love To late we realize that our food bag is sitting open by our side!!!
Though for some reason sometimes we can find calmness, just a feeling that a smile at disaster tickles our insides, reaching for a prayer of forgiveness and guidance, with as simple a statement as "God? Help! " And like those rare moments, this time the calmness came, and he said to the bear, "Good morning, I hope you are enjoying this warm spring evening as much as I am, it may be we are both kindred spirits (I hope so),. And I'm just going to finish my wash up and be out of your way."
At this point he could see out of the corner of his eye, the bear's head tilted some to one side, questioningly, and he rolled back his considerable tonnage onto his back hips as if to watch this stranger.
The hiker continued to slowly pack up his gear, and taking out a towel and drying his hair continued to talk calmly, "you know that this is a very metaphysical encounter, you a big part of what is beautiful, and me a dreamer that is searching for that beauty." Wrapping a towel around his head he paused, looked at the sunset from our mountain top ledge, sharing for another few minutes with the bear in silence. Then bowing and with a wave thanked him for the company, slowly backing away.
Life is a wonder, what it is filled with, where it will lead you, why beauty and fear and forgiveness and serenity can all be so intermingled. Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon. Psalm 91