Monday, July 25, 2011

A Little Bear Finds Courage - Peter A. Black

The scene is idyllic. Amidst the beauties of mountain scenery an adult male cougar scales a rocky outcrop. Lips pull back and whiskers bristle into a snarl, as his attention fixes on a bear cub rooting around several hundred metres away. The cub, unaware of the predator, frolics in the scrubby grass, grunting with delight, without a care in his world.

Feline fangs bare, and the cougar pants. His tongue shoots out to wash hungry lips. He scrambles down from the rock with a snarl. The cub hears, and now alerted he flees, gasping in fear, with the cougar in pursuit. He bowls along furiously, panting and whimpering in terror. Rippling muscles, hissing breath, padding paws – the cougar streaks after the bear. Will the gap soon close and the big cat make the kill, and the hapless little bear become its dinner?

A fallen tree, partly spanning a fast-flowing river with rocky rapids, offers the cub a glimmer of hope. He clambers along it, but his yelps signal utter despair as, nearing the far end of the trunk, he discovers it doesn’t quite reach the large rock near the opposing bank. Turning around, he faces the approaching predator, which is now on the tree advancing towards him. Still facing the cougar, he shuffles backwards along the trunk, the big cat advancing menacingly. Desperate, he shuffles back further, cowering and whimpering.

The cougar, only metres away, lets rip with a snarling roar of anticipated victory. Suddenly, the upper trunk of rotting tree beneath the bear cracks, breaking off. Bear and wood plunge to the rapids below. He disappears beneath the white, churning waters.

The part of the trunk that broke off resurfaces and floats, and is soon borne along by the rapid current. It is forked with a section of branch. Resurfacing, the cub lunges after it, giving a desperate, plaintive cry, and scrambles onto this ‘raft,’ for the forked formation gives the wood stability in the water. Rushing waters carry the little bear downstream.

Meanwhile, the cougar, although taken aback by this turn of events, isn’t ready to abandon chase – or his meal, and vacates the fallen tree to clamber over rocks and boulders flanking the shore, his plan is evident – intercept the pray further down the river. A series of boulders provides leaping points across the river, and the cougar, now ahead of the bear, positions himself on one – right in his path!

Again, the prey finds himself staring death in the face. Frantic, the cub abandons his raft and struggles in vain against the surging waters. He’s heading straight for the cougar who, like a coiled spring, crouches with muscles tensed, ready to strike.

The little bear makes repeated efforts to get away from being swept into the cougar’s reach, but they are fruitless, for the current keeps bringing him back towards his foe. The cougar leaps onto an even closer rock, and with a great snarl and vicious swipe rips the bear’s snout. But the little guy fights back, snarling and swiping, surprising the powerful cougar.

It’s as though the little bear has found his courage! His snarl soon changes into a light roar. With his fur standing on end, he continues roaring. His voice sounds deeper. The cougar looks up, surprised, then pauses. Completely unnerved, he beats a retreat, slipping and sliding off rocks and getting soaked in the water, while the little bear yells insults with bared teeth.

What happened? Behind the cub, over on the shore, a massive adult bear stands astride, roaring with mouth gaping wide, and waving its forelimbs menacingly!

With danger now past the little guy, with palpable relief, turns around and fairly skips over to his protective parent, to be comforted and calmed – his bleeding snout bathed in loving licks.


In this story I’ve described an amazing You Tube video clip of a short film by Jean-Jaques Annaud that friends forwarded to me some time ago. Perhaps you’ve seen it.

I reflected on how the tables turned for that bear cub, and the reason for the transformation that led to his standing his ground before his foe – the presence of one who was greater than his problem.

Consider the following thought:
God’s weakest child can gain courage and strength when he (or she) knows his Heavenly Father stands ready to back him up.

Isaiah 35:3-4 (NIV) Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; say to those with fearful hearts, "Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you."

1 Peter 5:8-9a (NIV) Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith . . .

Hebrews 13:5b-6 (NIV) . . . God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you." So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

© Peter A. Black.
Black is the weekly inspirational columnist at The Watford Guide-Advocate,
and the author of “Parables from the Pond” (Word Alive Press; ISBN 1897373-21-X).


Eleanor Shepherd said...

I forgot to tell you how much I liked your story. Perhaps it was your story that brought to mind the idea of mine. You are such an inspiration!

Peter Black said...

Very kind of you to say, Eleanor.
I still feel very much a novice in the matter of story-telling, and it's always more practice for me when I take on writing a narrative, whether fiction or non-fiction.
However, it certainly IS neat, when humanly unintended touchees occur; a reminder that the Holy Spirit works in and among God's children.

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