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In Good Hands

I made a decision. I formally informed G-d that He was officially in charge of the bear (as if He didn’t know that)

 

Some years ago, I found myself propelled out of bed and standing in the middle of my bedroom, heart slamming. The clock read 3 a.m.The entire house had shaken and I was sure there had been an explosion. And I was alone... my husband having packed out and left several nights earlier.

This explosion was not out on the telephone pole, as it sometimes is. I was sure it was inside the house. I ran to the kitchen expecting flames, and saw the soft light of the dimly lit oven hood, gentle and welcoming. I ran down to the furnace. It was humming along. I went back into the kitchen and scratched my head as I tried to catch my breath.

The deck? What? Did it fall off?! I switched on the deck light and sighed with relief. The heavy terra-cotta pots that had been on the rail were smashed to smithereens, and soil was everywhere. Okay. A raccoon. A very naughty one. I got back into bed.

In the morning I crinkled my nose as I leaned over a very smelly kitchen trash can to open the door to the deck and begin my cleanup. My blood ran cold when I saw the top step. Four clean slices in the deck, and a fifth off to an angle. So clean, they looked like they were made by an electric saw. I knelt and spread my palm wide, one finger touching each deep, perfect slice in the wood.

A bear.

I had been alone for such a short time that it hadn’t even registered that it was now my job to empty the kitchen trash. It reeked. I kicked myself. Of course that’s what drew the bear. I was lucky I didn’t have an open, sliding glass door. Those slices could have been across me.

 

I’d just begun to learn the 12 Steps some weeks before:

  1. We admit we are powerless, that our lives have become unmanageable.
  2. We have come to believe that only a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.
  3. We have made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of G-d as we understand Him.

But despite the 35-minute drive each way twice a week, and all the group chanting, I had yet to find something in my life that I could admit I was powerless over, something that was not manageable.

I now had a good candidate. The big bear, out there in the large forest behind my house? I could admit to being powerless over that.

I made a decision. I formally informed G-d that He was officially in charge of the bear (as if He didn’t know that), and that I would be sleeping serenely that night and not thinking about the bear, because who knows how long I’m going to be alone, and I couldn’t be anxious every night about the bear.

I proceeded to make that firm declaration, “I place the bear in Your Hands and I’m going to sleep serenely” every night for the five years I spent alone, right after my Shema, right before I fluffed my pillow.

Fast-forward several years. There had been a bear running around the neighborhood for some weeks, but it was off my radar, because bears were in G-d’s Hands. I came and went late at night from my office and never gave it a thought as I passed the dumpster.

One day, I was mowing the side yard. Usually I proceed straight to the backyard after the side is done, and I go another half hour before taking a break. But it was the end of the day and I was kind of tired, so I decided at the last second to turn onto the driveway for a five-minute rest and brow wipe.

As I cut the engine, a van quickly pulled up. “You need to go inside because there’s a bear right over there!” The driver pointed to the other side of the yard. “It just headed into your backyard!”

I chuckled as I walked into the garage, playing my usual mowing route in my mind. After the last swath of the side yard, I’d have pushed the lawn mower straight across the back, past the deck, till the edge of the other side of the yard. We would have literally crashed at a 90-degree angle, like two carts in the supermarket.

But we didn’t. I had put the bear in G-d’s Hands.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 701)

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