This Blog Post Began as a Meditation on Psalm 104, but somehow managed to wander far away from its proper place into something rather more silly, which is not unlike this title and the poor bear that prompted these thoughts in the first place.

My brother Marc, who is a faithful reader of the Billings Gazette, ran across this article the other day about grizzly bears moving out of the Rocky Mountains into the plains between Great Falls and Fort Benton, MT. These two bears weren’t causing any problems, but this bear wandering east of Ft. Benton (that’s farther away from the mountains than the first two bears) developed a taste for chicken and had to be killed.

Marc’s comment was, “I thought rattlesnakes and swarms of mosquitoes were bad.” Brenda and I commented on the political nightmare this must be for the National Forest Service and state wildlife agencies.

Then I read this morning’s psalm and found this:

You make darkness, and it is night,
when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.
The young lions roar for their prey,
seeking their food from God.
When the sun rises, they withdraw
and lie down in their dens.
People go out to their work
and to their labor until the evening. (Ps 104:20-23)

Nature, for us folk, is something to be managed. When we think of bears creeping out of the mountains onto the plains where farmers live and bears don’t belong, our minds don’t naturally turn to God. Instead, we wonder what the Fish and Wildlife officer is going to do about it. (And if we live in Ft. Benton, make sure the big rifle is loaded and in the rack in the back of the pickup cab.)

I’m pretty sure the farm family who sacrificed their hens (and no doubt their hen house along with it, although that wasn’t mentioned in the article) didn’t think in terms of the bear getting its food (ie, the hens) from God.

This morning as I read this text, it strikes me that when nature takes its course, we no longer “naturally” think of God (unless it’s to blame God for some “act of nature”). Our managed lives don’t lend themselves to considering God. I don’t get my food from God, I get it from the Piggly Wiggly. (I’ve been looking for an opportunity to throw that in to a blog post since I arrived in Port Gibson.) It’s hard to include God in the equation when our food is divorced from the land and comes shrink wrapped off the shelf in the store cooler.

Could it be that the bear in Loma, Montana suffers from the same distorted perspective we humans do? “Let’s see, do I want to wait for God to provide my food tonight, or will I go into this building and get these chickens off the shelf?” After some brief ursine moral reflection, and possibly even an ursine prayer of blessing and thanksgiving, with nary a thought about the divine order of things, the bear decided that he’d prefer chicken off the shelf.

Well, I need to close the blog post and go to the Piggly Wiggly to get some hamburger “off the shelf” for lunch. Hopefully the Mississippi Fish and Wildlife folk won’t have the same opinion of me as their Montana counterparts had of the bear.

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