For as long as I can remember, I have been afraid of bears. I can remember dreams when I was very young about being chased by bears. I am not entirely sure what that stems from, but needless to say- it's been a lifelong horror. I am not certain that I could put a fine point on the fear- being mauled, just seeing a bear, being eaten. I'm just afraid of bears.
How ironic that someone who is terrified of bears lives in Alaska. I've seen a black bear less than a quarter-mile from my house. Once I was in the path of a running grizzly while in the tundra outside Nome. I've seen bears from far away and not far away enough when I've been hiking in different places. I generally feel pretty calm about at the time, though my heart pounds.
Why am I thinking about bears now? I have had a hymn going through my head for a couple days. Not a hymn about bears (which one would that be?), but the hymn "My Life Flows on in Endless Song".
My life flows on in endless song; above earth's lamentation,
I catch the sweet, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.
(Chorus) No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that Rock I'm clinging
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?
Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear the music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing? (Chorus)
What thought my joys and comforts die? The Lord my Savior liveth.
What though the darkness gather round? Songs in the night he giveth. (Chorus)
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, a fountain ever springing!
All things are mine since I am his! How can I keep from singing? (Chorus)
Like many Alaskans, I love to hike and sometimes I have to do a short one by myself. Though I have resorted to the "Hello...coming through" style of announcing my presence, I like to sing as long as I have the air to do so (some hiking can be too strenuous to allow for melodic announcing). My heart is usually pounding because, though not bearanoid, I do wonder what greets me around the corner.
This hymn gets me through more than just lonely hikes. It's gotten me through some lonely months. There are six more weeks (I hope) until my husband comes back from overseas. At a recent "reunion training", family members were told that the last few weeks can be the hardest because you can see the end (and you're hoping information about extension doesn't come!). I cannot pretend that I am happy all the time. Some days are harder than others, but I can say that I haven't felt too alone through the past months. Even in dark days, my life has flowed on in endless song (sometimes a very mournful tune) and I haven't kept from singing.
Life is full of bears and other things. There are no promises that we will always feel like singing, but God does provide the background music of faith- so that when we catch the "sweet, but far-off hymn", we can rejoice with all of creation.