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Safety in the woods

Sometimes I've been caught off guard. Like the time I woke to find a lynx staring me in the face, or the day I stumbled over a rattlesnake, or the night a bear and I came face to face on a mountain trail. Although there were times I needed to act wisely and quickly, I don't really remember feeling afraid. I like to think that my mountain friends and I have a common love - the wilderness. It's easier to get along with others when you have something very much in common.

The time came, however, when there was fear. I was on a month-long pack trip into the back country. I had discovered a mountain lion's den near camp. That night I dreamed that the cat invaded the tent and a great struggle took place. Finally I woke and discovered I was safe.

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As I look back on how I felt during the dream, I realize the dream symbolized to me the anxiousness too often imposed on human thought when it comes to the relationship between people and animals. Such an emotion seemed so unlike my natural feeling toward these friends. Obviously this doesn't mean people should cozy right up to every wild thing that comes along in nature. But we can be unafraid; we can respect; we can cherish that which is beautiful and innocent and useful in nature.

The more we feel a sense of spiritual dominion, the less intimidated we are by a mortal view of creation. After all, the Bible describes God's creation of perfection in glowing terms; and it reveals that man is spiritual (the image of God) and that he has dominion. The writer of Genesis 1 describes God's gift of seed and tree and fruit, of beast and fowl. Then he insists, ''And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.'' n1

n1 Genesis 1:31.

If you are planning a trip into a remote area this year, you can trust God's promise to His people: ''I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.'' n2

n2 Ezekiel 34:25.

If you're going canoeing or white water rafting, you may recall this Bible assurance: ''When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee.'' n3

n3 Isaiah 43:2.

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If you are climbing a mountain, this prayer of the Psalmist might be supportive: ''Hold up my goings in thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.'' n4 The Bible is filled with God's support and promises of safety for those who have a love of nature.

n4 Psalms 17:5.

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, had a deep appreciation for nature. She saw beyond the restrictions of matter to the creation described in Genesis l. But even our present limited sense of creation, to her, hinted at something grand: ''In our immature sense of spiritual things, let us say of the beauties of the sensuous universe: 'I love your promise; and shall know, some time, the spiritual reality and substance of form, light, and color, of what I now through you discern dimly; and knowing this, I shall be satisfied.' '' n5

n5 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 87.

The next time you are in the mountains, take time to enjoy something of God's creation - and feel strong in trusting your safety to His care. DAILY BIBLE VERSE O LOrd our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! . . . What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? . . . Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet. Psalms 8:1, 4, 6

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