26 June 2005

The Moose Foundation

We have a special friend who lives in Mackay, Idaho and heads-up a foundation called the "Moose Foundation". Marty is one of those people who is generous, resourceful, energetic, and prays a whole bunch and we think a great deal of her. This foundation was created for the promotion of moose, one of those great ideas that she and a few others came up with to promote the largest species of ungulates in North America. Check out the link to the Moose Foundation.

Kind of like Ducks Unlimited, they promote moose for both conservational and enthusiast ends. Both go hand in hand in effect. No one wants to preserve moose and moose habitat more than those who live off of the animal. Any thinking conservationist knows that the death toll for many species has been when society forgets about a species and has charged ahead without thinking of the long term effects of its charging. I would say though that moose are hard to forget if you’ve ever seen one.

All of that to say that several weeks ago we were up in northern Idaho seeing some friends and prayer partners (not Marty this time). They have a home that backs up to some hills and forests and is rather secluded. One afternoon I took a walk up to the highest point on the hills behind their place where there are a number of communication towers. It was one of those spring days in northern Idaho when the sky is full of "wannabe" clouds, the sun is brilliant and there is a nice breeze but not so stiff that you can't hear the forest talk to you. I was headed down the mountain, after going to the top, just picking my way through the brush, trying to be quiet but not so much as to not enjoy the walk. I was headed down a ridge that was forested with a fairly thick thickets of willow in both ravines. I had been seeing a fair amount of sign and I was thinking that there must be moose in the area, a fact that our host had pointed out earlier in the day.

At one point I began to pick-up noise off to the left both down in the willow thickets and straight ahead of me. I decided to sit down and watch whatever it was come on up the ridge if it didn't smell or see me first. As I sat there I watched in amazement as a cow moose emerged from the willow thicket straight in front of me and begin to walk straight to the tree where I was crouched. I happened to have my camera with me and I quickly got it out and as it walked towards me I stood, whenever its head was down, and began to click off photos. It was interesting to see the girth and height of this animal. I do believe it is the first moose I have ever seen in the wild and it was a special event. When she was within 3 meters she stopped and looked back over her right shoulder down to the left and there in the willow thicket was her calf chewing on willow branches. It looked like the calf was a yearling, although, who am I to say so, we don't have such beasts in Cote d'Ivoire and for all I know it was an over grown white tail! As I stood there taking photos the cow discreetly walked around the tree where I stood and calmly continued browsing her way up the hillside on her way to the wooded crest through which I had come only several minutes earlier. It is an amazing thing to see wild creatures walk about you and ignore your presence as they go about their uncomplicated lives.

It makes one think about what is truly essential in life. I think we can become so caught up in the happenings in our lives that we forget to look over our shoulder to those younger or weaker than ourselves and then move on taking life in, all the while listening for the tell-tale signs of distress which are, at times, barely audible above the sound of the wind in the trees. Pray that we would be careful to not let the sound of the forest drown out the cries of distress that God puts on our forest path.

As I watched this cow moose disappear into the tickets behind me I thanked God that he had allowed me to see such an amazing animal that has wandered the north country for eons. Making my way down off the ridge I was careful to not get too far off to the left side where that cow moose had a calf chewing on willow, wondering what it would be like to run through willow thickets with a mad cow moose hot on my tail.

It is interesting how life comes at us, different points converge and things make sense that never did. I am not sure what you would call that but for me the "moose thing" is one of those convergences that is somehow strange but comforting. It forces me to think that there is indeed a God who is there and interested in every aspect of our lives as mundane and common as they may seem. I doubt that that moose had any idea why it was walking by this bearded man next to a tree in its woods but God certainly did.

You see, last August on our way to Denver for meetings we stopped in Mackay to see Marty who has been praying for us and supporting our work in Africa ever since I started in 1988. I not seen Marty since 1981, when I finished my course work at Multnomah Bible College. For some strange reason Marty and I continued to correspond. Although not frequent, at least once every two to three years we would hear from each other.

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