I'm alive and well, as are the bears.
I ventured across the highway this evening only to discover my old tracks overgrown.
I forged along anyway--in quest of good cheer,
a lift of spirits,
an improved state of mind.
I've been mulligrubbing over summer's slowness to show itself,
resenting the chill,
tromping along head down...argh alder saplings in 'my' way, blackberry tangle, sprawling spring growth.
I'm in over my head (quite literally) but forging through..
Louie picks up his pace, suddenly looking alert and eager and trots out of sight-- and oh! a dog is barking up ahead, must be someone else out here crazy as I am.
No wait. That's Louie's bark, his "Bear!" alert.
Rats. Can't see ahead, can't see much of anything. In this tiny corridor wedged against a chainlink fence it occurs to me this is probably the bear's primary passage too.
I clamber onto a big stump to survey my situation.
Louie's barking and charging a big black hulk. The hulk turns and charges in return. Louie dodges and turns and back and forth they go. I'm standing on my stump yelling to be sure the bear doesn't come this direction! Waving. Hollering, "Louie, NO!. Louie, Come!..."
Mr. Bear's loathe to leave his grubbing grounds for this pesky barking dog but now there's someone hollering from a stump...He rises on hind legs to get a better look. Huh? Must be surprising to see a two-legged One out here. He begins to retreat, but not without stopping every few paces to check his back, rearing up on hind legs to see if I'm in pursuit-- I'm NOT.
So, we're temporarily out of mischief, but I still have this whole tangle of clear-cut to circumvent now that I've parted ways with that bear corridor. And once I straggle my way to the old dirt road I yet have a long dim trail overhung with trees and flanked with rampant undergrowth to navigate. We're not home free yet!
[Make noise, that's the key.]
A running monologue with Louie grows old after the first unanswered comments. A hymn sing might just do the trick. Lots of words. Lots of volume. And so I commence. (This is something I'm normally quite shy of doing, for fear of being heard. But now, that's just the point ! and it's unlikely anyone else is so foolhardy as to be out here brambling in bear country at this time of day anyway!)
All Creatures of Our God and King suits the occasion. All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name is forceful and emboldening... And soon I'm bellowing Praise My Soul the King of Heaven followed by Jesus is the Sweetest Name I know. No, that one's too sweet-sounding.
There's a LOT of fresh bear poo all along my way now--and Louie's dashed up the path barking again off to the side in the overgrown undergrowth. I can't see the bear. But neither can it see me!
[Keep singing-- loudly!]
Maybe some percussion would be good about now.
Bring on my sticks... "The j-o-y of the L-o-o-o-ord is my strength [strike sticks], the joy of the L-o-r-d is my strength [crack!]...
And the reality of what's happening in my soul makes me chuckle. I started on this walk my spirit dragging in quest of fresh joy but unwilling to fight for it. And what am I doing now?! Singing my heart out, with urgency, declaring what I know to be true whether I feel it to be so or not.
And just maybe a hint of joy is creeping over me in this bear-infested wilderness as I sing because after all, I am alive and well!
And I'm in hot pursuit, not of bears, but of Joy!
Joy really is my strength!
"But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head." Psalm 3:3
btw: Have you seen John Piper's book: When I Don't Desire GOD: How to Fight for Joy It has resurfaced at my house recently. It's excellent and practical help for re-orienting your source of joy to Christ above all. Think it's time for a refresher myself!