The grace of New Year's Day is a renewed sense that the future is wide open; a feeling of spaciousness, of endless possibilities beckoning to us.
One of the gifts I will carry forward from last year to this new year is that of bear-energy. Many of you will remember an incident that occurred between a bear and I in August:
"A strange thing happened last night as I was driving home from the mountains. It occurred in Poudre Canyon, just west of here. As I drove downcanyon, suddenly, a cinnamon colored bear came barreling toward me from my left and slammed into the car. Shaken, I pulled over and found that the section of the car body located just behind the headlight and below the hood had been completely ripped off. I then drove back to the site of the collision and found no sign either of the bear OR of the piece of my car! . . . Then - and this is crazy - I went to get gas after driving over 200 miles, and the tank would only take two gallons to fill! I was just about to tell my wife that the gas gauge wasn't working! That's about 110 miles to the gallon! "
What I have discovered since is that the bear's energy transferred itself to me and has made me more fierce, protective of the insights and calling I'm been given, and less concerned about whether people like me or not. I'm also more apt now to "call a spade a spade" and engage in societal critique.
Some people may not like this change, as I've recently discovered. It is all very new for me, and I imagine it will take some time for me to learn how to live out the bear-energy in a way that is balanced with the "nice-guy" persona I've generally had up until this point. But I am very grateful for the encounter that night, the fresh energy that bear gave me, and for the bear signs that continue to emerge in my life :)
Photos: (Top) Stephen at Upper Cathedral Lake, Yosemite National Park, CA; (Middle) Mother Bear, Bierstadt Lake Trail, Rocky Mountain National Park, CO; (Bottom) My bear-damaged Honda Civic
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Stephen Hatch, M.A. is a spiritual teacher and photographer from Fort Collins, Colorado. His approach is contemplative, inter-spiritual, and Earth-based.