The Greatness of Bears

I did see an actual bear once, in the wild.


I was running on an empty, paved road in Whitefish, Montana, the glorious summer after I left my first husband for the first time.


I looked to the left, and there it was. She (or he - I certainly didn’t check) was on all fours, doing God knows what. It was horrifying.


I was helpless there. Clearly, the bear was way more powerful than I. Thank God she didn’t notice me, or didn’t seem to care.


I got to thinking about bears while I was eating a delicious salmon earlier tonight. It tasted so good that I imagined I was a bear.


Maybe I’m a bear. I love honey and hibernation also. Could it be the happy, hungry silence inside me? Bear?


What about the bears? Where are they going? Am I eating all their salmon, melting all their ice with my SUV and throw-away plastic, stealing their wild honey bees with the pesticides that keep my food cheap?


When they are gone, who will be here to bear the earth, to signal Spring?


What do I come bearing? What have I borne?


If only I could go back in time, to that run, and stop and see the bear, study her. Call her by her name, enjoy her size, power, loveliness. All I wanted was to get the hell out of there - escape, survive. Waste of a precious experience. I could’ve really seen her, if I had been more brave.


Bear spirit, can you hear me now, across the miles and dimensions? Can you show me a sign? If I meet you in the river, will you throw me a fish?