Mind Over Moose

I Love Moose Tracks – Preferably Ice Cream!

By Susan Deborah Schiller, originally published 7/6/12

Paralyzed, our eyes locked and I wondered, "Who was more shocked – the moose or me?" The stand-off continued for what seemed an eternity!

For those who have lived in the wilderness you are well aware that a moose is one of the most dangerous species in the woods! Even a baby moose looks as huge as an elephant.

What makes a moose the most dangerous beast in the woods? They are totally unpredictable. In a split second a moose can bear down on you and mow you over as if we were nothing but a grasshopper… or they can simply turn away and disappear in the woods.

Our little house in the woods was perched on a rushing mountain river called the Vermillion. Beavers, lions, eagles, and bears were our closest neighbors, but during certain times of the year a small moose family rambled through the wetlands.

One morning, I was getting dressed to take my morning hike along the river when an unusual thought entered my mind: "Wear your black and white striped shirt." Huh? I should have gotten rid of that shirt years ago – it was UGLY! But the thought persisted and grew stronger, so I pulled the unattractive striped shirt over my head and headed out for my 2-mile walk.

This was my favorite time of the day and such a peaceful place to walk and meditate. Alongside the dirt road the crystal clear river gushed noisily in serpentine braids down to a large turquoise bay. Sunset-painted cliffs rose sharply against the far bank of the river, and it was not uncommon to spot wet tracks in the road where a mountain lion had dragged a beaver up out of the shallows and into the hills. Otters and muskrats were busy swimming amidst a log jam of broken limbs and twigs.

The beaver family was busy making endless dams, cutting down countless trees, leaving an army of stumps about waist-high. Bullfrogs formed a chorus line while thousands of butterflies flitted from branch to branch.

We had counted 7 bald eagles that made the bay their home. Perched in the sandbar their dinners of ducks, geese, and muskrats were fit for a king!

The air smelled of honey and cotton candy and I couldn't help but sing out loud. All of creation was singing, it seemed!

But that's when reality set in…

Everyone told me I should be carrying a gun with me, if only to make a loud noise should a large beast decide to go fishing or swimming. But I just didn't grow up around weapons and never felt comfortable even touching one! So for two years I walked my 2-mile path, sometimes hiking as many as 14-miles in a day, and I never carried a weapon, not even bear spray.

My favorite place to watch all this was a small sandy beach peppered with boulders just the right size for stools. But on this particular day, that same voice that told me to wear the ugly black and white striped shirt was piping up once again and saying, "Keep walking."

Well, when you hike through the mountainous wilderness without a gun, you had better at least listen to that still, quiet voice deep inside your heart! So I continued the hike up the cliff, enjoying the otters and muskrats. Nevertheless, one does need to work, even in paradise, so I turned around to head back home. Just as I was about to pass my favorite spot – the sandy beach – a huge moose locked eyes with me. I was almost upon him (or was it a her??)!

Paralyzed, I stopped. There was no thinking at such a time as that… either you die or you don't, I figured. No way could I outrun him and there was no place to hide! After a few minutes of deadpan eye-lock, I wondered, "Who's more shocked? Him or me?" I don't know how long we stood there, both of us paralyzed, it seemed. I don't even remember who broke the stubborn gaze first. All I know is that I had no defense and either I lived or I died but I must get home. The moose just continued to stand there, mesmerized.

Safely home, I began to take stock of my life… was I really crazy to live in the mountains and not even know how to use a gun?

Call it stupidity, stubbornness, or naivete. But it seemed to me that in all my walks on that lonely mountain road, I had come upon at least one bear, one mountain lion, one moose, and probably a whole lot more that had escaped my limited vision… and nothing had ever harmed me!

I don't recommend you go out and walk unarmed through the wilderness, but I'm thinking there is something to be said for lacking fear. Fear is the scent that causes a predator to hunt for a kill. If you trust God, how can you fear?

If you know who is walking alongside you every step of the way, how can you ever be afraid?

My theory about the moose? It's only a guess, but I'm wondering if my ugly black and white striped shirt puzzled the poor moose…. he must have been thinking, "Zebra?? I thought I was in Montana!" Okay, that's just my imagination, but it was a very strange coincidence, don't you think, that the voice deep inside told me to wear that shirt and then warned me to keep walking?

I've often meditated about those walks in the wilderness and the strange protection that surrounded me. I know what I was doing on those walks… talking with my Father God. Psalm 91 was one of my prayers….

You'll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance,
watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God's your refuge,
the High God your very own home,
Evil can't get close to you,
harm can't get through the door.

He ordered his angels
to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they'll catch you;
their job is to keep you from falling.
You'll walk unharmed among lions and snakes,
and kick young lions and serpents from the path.

 14-16 "If you'll hold on to me for dear life," says God,
"I'll get you out of any trouble.
I'll give you the best of care
if you'll only get to know and trust me.

Could it be that the very words I spoke in prayer over and over again while walking up the mountain path were putting forces into motion to put those words into effect in my life? I believe that is what happened. And it happens every day in our lives, for good or for bad.

What am I speaking into my atmosphere today? Am I bringing the Kingdom of Heaven to world around me, or am I releasing fear and chaos with my own worries and doubts? Am I listening for that still, small voice from within? What thoughts and words can I release today to save a life, even my own?

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With all my love,

Sue

Susan Schiller knows how it feels to lose everything: marriage and family, church and reputation, finances and businesses, and more. Susan's upcoming, interactive memoir, "On the Way Home," tells the story of how she came to be known as "the most abused woman" her counselors had yet met and how she learned to navigate to freedom and fullness.  
 
Today Susan helps people write their life stories, unearthing the treasures of their past and sowing them into their future, creating new family legacies.
 

Copyright © 2010 to 2015 Team Family Online, All rights reserved.   For reprint permission or for any private or commercial use, in any form of media, please contact Susan Schiller

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Olga Hermans July 8, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Susan, you are so brave….we were on vacation this last week and we saw quite a few animals like bears:black beart and a grizly bear, elks and deer. But we were safe because the animals were behind barbed wire..I am not dure what I would have done if I had come face to face with one of them. I know one thing that the Holy Spirit is always there to help us, but in my human mind I would be really scared….

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Susan McKenzie July 9, 2012 at 12:00 pm

You must have some glorious photos from your trip, Olga… you live in such a majestic part of the country! I think often of the day when planet earth will be safe once again… the lion laying down with the lamb. It’s almost too beautiful to grasp… what a great God we serve!

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Carolyn Hughes July 7, 2012 at 10:16 am

Reading this brought a smile to my face because I couldn't imagine coming face to face with a moose and keeping calm! I love your statement here:" If you trust God, how can you fear?" ~ pure faith. Awesome!

Reply

Susan McKenzie July 7, 2012 at 12:52 pm

So many times life gets heavy … it’s nice to have a supply of joyful memories to draw from. Kids, especially, enjoy hearing the stories of their elders when they were younger… it really circles the wagons and makes families stronger! Thanks so much for reading and sharing, Carolyn!

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