Bread and Bears

Some folks drive the bears out of the wilderness
Some to see a bear would pay a fee
Me I just bear up to my bewildered best
And some folks even see the bear in me

—Lyle Lovett

A couple of summers ago I took my son Caleb backpacking in Colorado.  At that time he was 16 and not altogether sure that he wanted to spend that much time alone with his dad.  But I knew that in the culture of our family it was important that he and I have some alone time in the wild.

Almost all of our (my) goals were not realized in terms of destinations.  The snow pack was too deep to get to the alpine lakes and the caves we wanted to explore.  We were stuck in camp.  Lakes frozen over and caves filled with snow.  Conversation was truncated and awkward.  I wanted this experience to bond us together but it was torturous.  We don’t share the same taste in music, reading, current events and much of anything else.  Wait that is not true; we both love the same woman: his mom.

How do I connect with this guy?

One evening we were sitting on a log and finishing up supper when Caleb said in a low whisper, “Dad look!”  I looked up and about 30 yards away was a large cinnamon colored bear walking through our meadow.  He looked over at us and kept walking.  I grabbed my video camera but by the time I got it turned on and pointed in his direction he was disappearing into the wooded edge of the meadow.  I think I got 5 seconds of him on the camera.  It was quite an adrenaline rush.  We both were very pumped and quivering with excitement.

Then I noticed something.  Before the bear came into our world, Caleb was at the far end of the log whittling on a stick while his supper cooled.  After the bear walked by, he was sitting next to me on the same log.  He had moved some 8 feet towards me.  In fact, he sat beside me on that log the rest of the night.  He had been sulking a bit before the bear. He was missing his girlfriend, his mother, his X-box, and his bed.  After the bear came through camp he was not sulking any more.  He was fully present.  He was “there” in the wilderness.

In the tent that night we both laughed and giggled at every snapped twig that sounded in the darkness.  Once just when he drifted to sleep, I would rumble a low growl and grab his leg.  He screamed and hollered.  We both split the night with laughter.  Later he tried it on me and I screamed like Yogi and Boo Boo were pulling me out of the tent.  He laughed and laughed.

As I reflect on that time I wonder if it is possible that the Heavenly Father allows dangers into our world to do a couple of things:  One, draw us closer to Him on the log and second, to cause us to be fully present where we are.

Is that why Jesus tells us to ask for “our daily bread” instead of our monthly bread?


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