Garbage, garbage everywhere. The trash can was turned over. Three contractor bags ripped open, their contents strewn across the dirt floor. What a freaking mess! And the smell… I hadn’t even had my tea yet. It was 6am. I was taking the dogs out for a quick morning vigil and planned to hop back in bed with a cup of tea and my iPad. Instead, I was picking up debris and filling three new contractor bags. YUCK. Double yuck. And I was wondering how and when the dogs had gotten into it. My first instinct was, “Bear,” but I quickly ruled that out. Sure, we’ve seen bears in the fields around my house. People in town told me they’d parked on the road in front of my home (along with several other cars) and watched a 400 pounder (how do men always know how much they weigh?) meander across my side lawn. But that was a few years ago. My neighbors take in their bird feeders nightly because so many have been ravaged by the local black bears. But having one in my barn seemed out of the question. So I packed the mess back into bags and went inside, grumbling at my naughty dogs.
But later that day I ran into Mike Bodnar, my neighbor, friend, and NYS Forest Ranger. “Hey, Mandy! We say a bear coming out of your barn last night.” He held his hand waist-high, showing me the bear’s height on all fours. Far out! Pretty darn cool. What’s not cool is that the dump isn’t open again until Wednesday, so I think I’ll be picking up a lot of garbage over the next few days. This morning when I peeked into the barn, I moaned at the mess that had returned in the night. I’m putting rubber gloves on my shopping list today.
In Native American traditions, different animals (totems) carry different “medicine” and messages. Not medicine in the pharmaceutical sense. But opportunities, signs, and messages for mental, emotional, and spiritual growth and healing. Hawks and crows have been strong totems for me over the years. Now that I’ve been twice visited by a black bear in as many days, I’m going to take this as a note to investigate the medicine that bear carries. Time for a little research. I’ll meditate on Bear. I’ll draw his/her image into my mind as I meditate. Before I go to sleep, I’ll invite Bear into my dreams. I’ll Journey with Bear. I’ll speak to my shaman friends, I’ll turn to my books, and I’ll troll the internet for information. To me, this as a sign that a new door is opening in my spiritual life. I welcome it. And I’ll try to remember that as I pick-up the trash.