Stop Scaring Bears

The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. – Isaiah 11:6 (NRSV)

Animals are fascinating, especially when they appear to be unwatched. That’s why people share all those cute animal videos on social media. Have you ever done that? Well, stop it. No one wants to see those.

Except, maybe I do. To be honest, I am of two minds about sharing cute animal videos, and here is the conflict:

When you send me animal videos, they are trivial and a waste of time.

But when I send them to you, they are profound and deserving of your full and immediate attention.

Do you recall the adorable viral video of the little bear cub scrambling up the impossibly steep and snowy mountain to get to Mama Bear? Baby gets to the top, Mama swipes Baby, who tumbles down, takes a quick breath and then strikes back up the hill, this time to make it. What lessons in resilience human beings can find in nature (especially for anyone with a demanding mother)! How fortunate that a drone camera captured the whole scene!

But it turns out the drone camera probably orchestrated the whole scene. In normal life, those bears would never be exposed to such dangerous conditions on a photogenic mountain. The drone had chased them there for a photo opportunity. Mama wasn’t swiping Baby away. She was probably batting the drone away, to protect her desperate cub.

The prophet Isaiah predicted God’s “peaceable kingdom” of animals and humans living and napping together, but he wasn’t sentimental about it, so we shouldn’t be either. God’s peaceable kingdom between humans and animals is not about us being entertained. These days, the peaceable kingdom may be about leaving the animals alone, to live, eat, and nap in peace, rather than to perform.

All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small, all things wise and wonderful, the Lord God made them all. Amen.

16177.jpg About the Author
Lillian Daniel’s new book Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To: Spirituality without Stereotypes, Religion without Ranting is now available for purchase, but you can hear it all for free at 1st Congregational Church of Dubuque, Iowa