The tales of three bears

By Helen Guilfrod - Special to The Expositor

Years ago I was walking a well traveled, paved trail in a state park in Virginia. Alone, I was enjoying the quiet and the scenery. Then, coming around a little bend, I was face to face with a bear cub. The cub startled but didn’t alarm me, but I knew if the cub was there, Mama bear was not far away. I made a quick decision to retreat.

Another place and time, we were going camping in the Smoky Mountains for the weekend. I called Mom and Dad and told them where we would be. Dad’s parting comment was, “Watch out for the bears.” “Yeah, Dad, I know. We’ll be careful.”

We set up our tent camper which actually had a tent room on the ground. After supper, we cleaned up the campsite and carefully put food away. The two cats with us were fed and the tent flaps secured. At bedtime, we checked everything again. Still, sometime in the night, we were awakened by noise that could mean only one thing – bear!

I can still envision that bear with his head stuck in the Crisco can. We quickly ascertained the tent was no protection at all and the safest place was in the station wagon. Each grabbing a cat, we made a dash for it while the bear was still busy with the Crisco! Watch out for bears? Yes, but don’t leave the Crisco out either.

A friend was telling of her recent bear experience.

She was visiting her son in Montana for a few weeks. One day they drove to Glacier National Park to enjoy the beautiful panoramas of snow-capped mountains and abundant waterfalls.

At one waterfall, they walked a short way to the base. There, my friend sat down to enjoy the scenery while her son and 18-year-old grandson climbed up the trail to the top of the falls.

Some distance and several levels above, her grandson led the way, but it took only one misstep to send him falling down a couple of levels. When he finally came to a stop, his dad caught up and asked, “Are you okay?” Yes, he was fine, suffering only a bruised ego. Nevertheless, he was quite content to stay where he was and wait for his dad to finish the climb.

She continued to watch. Her son emerged from the forested walk to step into full view at the top of the falls. He stood there and enjoyed the thrill of having made the climb, the beauty of his surroundings and the power of the falls.

From her place at the bottom of the trail, his mother saw a bear also come out to enjoy the falls – right behind her son! Why doesn’t he move? Doesn’t he know to get out of the bear’s way? And she began to yell and wave her arms over her head. He waved back. Her waves and yelling continued with no greater results.

When he and his son got back, she asked why he didn’t get away from that bear.

“What bear?” He had neither seen nor heard it.

“Why did you think I was waving and yelling?” Well, he couldn’t hear the yelling, of course, because of the thundering waterfalls. The waving? He thought she was just doing a happy dance to congratulate him on the climb.

Now, if we consider each of these bears to be the sin that so easily trips us up, note the different reactions – first, was an evasive action; second, was finding a secure spot to just wait it out; and the third? In ignorance and innocence, no action was taken. That was a case of God’s active participation in her son’s life – a time when God Himself put a barrier between her son and danger.

Those are all apt ways for the Christian to deal with the life’s daily temptations.

By Helen Guilfrod

Special to The Expositor