From The Pastors

Maryland Black Bears

February 1, 2024

Did you know there are black bears in Maryland? And did you know they don’t actually properly “hibernate”? They just have an extended lazy period when they “den,” which means…well it means they stay in their den and don’t go out for months at a time.

Personally, I get it. I don’t think I could possibly sleep through the whole winter. I don’t always manage to sleep through the night. So, I know how poorly it would go if I attempted sleeping an entire season! Getting the covers and heat levels just right is a constant battle. And my dog Henry would wake me up at least four or five times a day, every day. So, I get it. Denning sounds like a good compromise.

It does take some planning. Stocking up on food. Bear dens must have big pantries. Bears don’t read, though, nor do they play computer games or post on social media, as far as I know. So it’s a little perplexing to think what they actually are doing the whole time they are denning but not actually sleeping. Presumably, they talk. Tell dumb bear jokes. That sort of thing.

But man, that would get old.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking. I’d kind of like to give “denning” a try. As I have written here before, I hate February. It’s dark, dreary, cold, has little to look forward to, and the warm glow of Christmas is fully faded. It’s the month when many people confront the fact that no, this is not the year they will journal every day, or go running every morning, or quit smoking because, well, they’ve already gone a couple weeks without doing those things already. The one good thing I can think of that happened in my life in February was the birth of my daughter (a very good thing indeed), and the rest is all a gray flavored blur in my memory. [Note: I just ran this by my wife, who reminds me we were betrothed in February. So, two good things.]

But staying home, eating, lowering my heartbeat to just barely moving, maybe drifting in and out of naps–that sounds like a proper way to get through a month so blah we’ve all agreed to make it shorter than any other month. Oh, and speaking of which, this is one of those years when we are punished with an extra day in February as sort of a shot across the bow reminding us that this is also an election year. Bleh.

But who would preach, you ask? No worries: I’ve got it all worked out. I’m going to find one of those lazy bears to cover for me. It’s not like they’re actually hibernating. And what good have they done us all these years? It’ll be good for one of them to finally feel a little useful this winter.

Still doubting there are bears in Maryland? I assure you; they are out there. One news story I googled for the sake of this article told me that there may be as many as two thousand black bears in the state now. And that’s way up from maybe two to three hundred a few decades ago. You might even say Maryland has a growing bear PROBLEM. And it’s not just in the western part of the state. Bears have been seen in Baltimore County, near Frederick, and in other surprising places. I feel like I might have seen one on the mall during a recent protest, but that could have just been a badly costumed Viking.

Speaking of which, did you know that there is a strong correlation between bigfoot sightings and local bear population size? (Another true fact I looked up just for you.) You know what that means, right? Either people are seeing bigfeet (bigfoots?) and thinking they’re bears and so not reporting the sightings, or sasquatches are using bear populations to camouflage their movements. Either way, I’m worried about what the Maryland government is going to do about the impending monster problem we so clearly are facing this election cycle.

Okay, I took a break after the last paragraph to do some more research. It turns out, bears tend not to be viewed very positively in the Bible. Generally speaking, bears represent the literal sense of the Word divorced from its internal, spiritual sense, as well as the fallacies people derive from being too literalistic in their reading of the Word. So, a bear preacher is out, I’m sorry to say. Just as well, I suppose. Imagine the scandal if it later turned out I’d accidentally hired a sasquatch to cover my pulpit?

I hope you all are finding ways to keep warm, useful, and happy and dry this month. And if you see a bear, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Rev. Glenn “Mac” Frazier, Pastor

Washington New Church, 2024-01-24