The Bear in My life.

I saw a bear in Whistler.  Well, more like I was visited by a gigantic round lanky blackish blondish brown bear one night while walking around in the snow.  I was alone, and it was exactly what I needed.  

Some stories need to be told, even if they're weird.  The best ones are told by strange people, so I feel good about sharing. I'm aware not everyone is religious, but everyone experiences God.  We sense His presence in every feeling of love and hope, in every glimpse of beauty and peace, but He is also in the pain.  He is with us in the uncertainty, the chaos, the loneliness, despair, and even in death. With God we take the good with the bad, the moments of ecstasy with the relentless and persistent sorrow.  There is purpose in all of it.  He is close to you today. We simply need a reminder of who He is and how certain He is about His love for us.

Gabe is still in Canada, working.  Going on 5 months now.  He's ready to come home but Covid testing keeps him there. (My kids were ready to come home in November!)  We spent over two months with him, moving from condo to condo, from Toronto to Ottawa, Montreal to Vancouver.  I loved every minute with my family in close quarters. And I loved every night, walking the cities with Gabe.  I needed every conversation, every argument, and every cranky attitude from my kids.  

We needed the time together.  Life tends to separate us.  Even in this big ol' house we live in.  Somehow the close quarters of high-rise condos made me feel secure.  Teenage years are not fun for me.  My kids are growing like weeds.  Stupidly we've raised them to be utterly opinionated and sometimes it's much easier for them to retreat to a corner upstairs than it is to talk it out.  When we are stuck in an eighth of the square footage we are used to, there is little to no escape.  It was a dream, and I mean that honestly.  I love being with my often jerky kids.  They are THE BEST, even when they are mean.  I love them so much.  It's a strange thing what God created when He designed parent/child love. (But He should know.) 

Back to the bear. . .

We were staying in Vancouver which is one of my most favorite cities.  Unbelievably beautiful.  The ocean runs right through the city, not to mention forests and seagulls hanging out with pigeons.  Black squirrels and salty air.  Huge trees surrounding the most beautiful city I've ever seen.  Canadian cities are so clean!  Oh yeah, the bear. .

Whistler.  Canadian Aspen, the perfect weekend away. Only an hour drive from Vancouver and driving along the coast is breathtaking and scary at the same time.  Gabe drove the 4 wheel drive suburban along the coastal highway turns like it was a Porsche, and it was not.  I knew there were bears in Whistler and I had already asked God to see one for many reasons.  Bears are crazy wild animals and although I rave about being in close proximity with my family, I was also in great talks with God about a few tough things going on in my reality near and far.  So I asked to see a bear.  One day Heidi and I hiked up the Ascent Trail and I told her to tell God we want to see a bear.  She didn't, but I did.  I have asked God for many things in my life.  Sometimes He feels so close to me and sometimes He feels distant.  Pain makes Him feel far away.  In my heart it's like He's near but just doesn't care about my pain.  Or He's far away and doesn't know about it.  I don't believe this, but these are the lies we tell ourselves.  Like the song says, "From a distance, the Earth looks blue and green, and snow capped mountains white."  I hate that song.  Always have.

So I didn't see the bear on our first weekend in Whistler.  I thought I never would.  The weekend before we came home, Gabe suggested we go back to Whistler.  It was the first snow and he loves the mountains.  The night we got there, our condo was at the back of the village and we couldn't figure out where to unload our bags because parking was a long walk away and it was FREEZING.  Gabe dropped us off and went to look for closer parking.  I took the kids inside and walked back outside hoping to see him drive by so I could flag him down to drop the bags.  It was just me and the snowy freezing night.  It was glorious.  The snow was falling all around me and it was perfectly quiet outside.  A winter wonderland.  I started walking along the path around the condos and could see the road through the trees so I walked toward it.  Gabe phoned, trying to figure out where I was, and suddenly I saw him.  The bear.  He was crossing the street and heading straight toward the walking path.  Straight toward MY path.  I can't explain to you how excited I was at that moment.  I unreasonably see bears as huggable oversized rabbits that don't hop.  They are magnificent beasts, huge and furry.  He walked to a spot about 25 feet ahead of me and stopped. He turned his giant furry bear body my way, looking straight at me.  I'd been told to not make eye contact and make myself appear as big as possible, so I glanced toward the sky with the world's biggest smile on my face.  Then he turned and walked on by.  It was amazing.  And I'll tell you why. . .

"2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." Genesis 1:1-2

This moment in the Bible is vivid to me, both visually and spiritually.  God Himself hovered over the expanse of the Earth.  Like a mist above the waters.  This is how I experience Him on this Earth.  He's a being that makes no sense, except that He is with me always.  He hears and sees everything.  He is close to me and sings over me when my heart is broken.  He's right here this moment, only my mind pushes Him away.  When I pray over my kids I imagine His presence thick within these walls, surrounding them.  When I speak to Him I know that He hears me.  Sometimes this knowing is not enough and I ask for things.  When the bear walked right in front of me, so close I could have hugged him, (which I thought about but talked myself out of), it was as if God just casually walked by and said hello.  God in the form of a giant bear, in the dark, in the snow, on the most beautiful night. (As the angel appeared to the shepherds, God appeared to me. Appeared. Out of nowhere.)

I was still on the phone to Gabe and he drove by just in time to see the bear.  His excitement did not match mine and that's ok.  We ask God for different things.  I ask Him for glimpses of hope. I hope you do too.  This life OVERWHELMS me often and I need to know that I have a God who walks beside me.  He's bigger than I am. And, He is closer than anything else in the world.  He is in everything I see and He is utterly close beside and around me.  He's not human or constrained in this world.  He's more than my mind can conceive and this is how it is supposed to be.  He is the beginning and the end. He knows my future and my past.  He is the author and perfector of my faith and He is the lover of my soul.  I told Him I wanted to see a bear.  He brought it right to me, and I'm still smiling about it.

I'm looking forward to a fantastic 2021. No matter what I walk through, I'm asking God to show up, give me a nod and let me know He is walking right beside me.



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