This picture reminds me of a place we explored a few years ago. It’s near Lake Tahoe where the hiking trails never seem to end, where we saw our first black bear in the woods–it was a baby bear. Quite frightening since we realized mama bear had to be somewhere nearby in protection mode. Those bears can be dangerous.
Mama bear didn’t show up before we made it back to our car, but we sought out some of the locals the next day to reassure us that it was safe to hike in those mountains. We saw another bear on that trip to Tahoe, but after being reassured, we tried to pretend we were just passing another hiker along the trail. We did, however, allow that “other hiker” to take the main trail and we took a side trail, according to the advice of a wise man.
I’ve found that tactic works well when making friends. There are people who might be fine when you pass them on the street, but you can usually tell by watching them for a while if they are the kinds of people who are peace-loving, or if they’re prone to strife. I’m sure it’s just my introversion showing, but I tend to seek relationships with peaceful, easy-going people who don’t make a habit of gossiping or making snide remarks about someone who isn’t there–or even someone who is there. I avoid those with anger issues because I’ve been wounded by them before.
Do you remember the old series The Incredible Hulk? In several of those episodes, it seems to me Bill Bixby found himself warning people, “Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like it if I became angry.” I’ve discovered there are a lot of hidden Hulks in our world who can only be pushed so far before they show the true beast within. To keep the peace, I leave people like that alone.
Oh, sure, some people are wounded and need help. That’s a different kind of bear. Sometimes we take the chance necessary to help that wound heal. It isn’t easy, but we’ll have to decide if it’s worth the trouble. Those wounded bears might even someday become friends–once they’ve healed.
So it’s always a good idea to smile at those who walk our paths, who speak to us now and then, who might even need a gentle word of encouragement, but I’m pretty sure it’s still wise not to poke a bear with a stick, not to set up camp in the area of a bear, or even feed the bear until you know it’s safe. I keep the peace by keeping my distance from the bears in this world, and it saves me a great deal of stress.
May you have a week of peace.