Maybe not poetically or politically correct but true. I woke up one night in early May to the cacophony of a canine chorus.This is not an unusual occurrence so I didn’t respond beyond a vocal admonition to desist.
I noticed in the morning that the guard dog and the sheep had removed themselves from their pen. Not a real concern until I noticed that one of the sheep had remained in the pen. Upon a careful stockman’s stare, I determined she had all the life of a Canadian Senator. She hadn’t come to this point on her own but had been assisted. The next day the perpetrator showed up and proved to be a grizzly.
We treated him to a Western shivaree* but he moved on at his own pace. I decided to inform the appropriate authorities and the next day they showed up with a barrel-like home for wayward bears. Long story short, the bear preferred his natural habitat and new diet. Six sheep later, just when I was about to turn to more traditional methods the young bear stepped into the trap for a nap. We heard the trap slam shut and upon investigating, my biggest concern was that his mother might be in close proximity. The coming of daylight proved “Sherman” (named on account of his build and other body features) to be old enough to leave home. His vital statistics were recorded and he received a trendy earring but no tattoos to go with his bad boy image.
Since we knew there was at least one more bear around, we left Sherm in the trap as incentive. This provided the most fun as humans and animals both had to see what was in the trap. Those folks with some knowledge of bears knew that you could find them in the dark by their odour, which reaches out and attaches itself to the gag reflex in your stomach. Those with no previous experience with bears soon found that out.
The horses, which had removed them- selves from the pen when the bear first showed up, were in no rush to play tag but were otherwise unconcerned with their new neighbour. This might have surprised some but bears are a part of life for these horses, so they get used to them.
If we take that thought into our own lives, we realize we’re surrounded by many “Sherms.” We don’t need to be spooked by their presence; just be aware of where they are in relation to where we are.
In John 17:15-16 we learn the concept “in the world but not of the world.” Jesus prays not that we would be gone from the world but that we would be protected from the evil one. Our job is to know where evil is and stay away, not go and play. Evil, like a bear in a trap, is contained, but still lets its presence be known and it can do a lot of damage if we get too close. Where are you standing?
*A shivaree, or charivari, is a North American term for a “clamorous saluta- tion” made to a newlywed couple by an assembled crowd of neighbours and friends. Usually shotguns are involved. – editor
Bryn Thiessen is a rancher, poet, cowboy and preacher at Cowboy Trail Church in Cochrane. Bryn, his wife Bonny and their kids Orin and Lane, (Casey got a job) raise cattle and horses on Helmer Creek Ranch southwest of Sundre, Alta.