Walking along the arroyo, I admired the animal and bird tracks imprinted in the sandy soil.  A family of deer left a trail of hoof prints. Mice revealed their network of homes and travels with well-worn paths between the junipers and piñon pines. Ravens and songbirds left intricate patterns which abruptly disappeared where the winged ones leapt into the air to fly. Even though on this day we did not physically meet up, I felt our companionship on earth, our unique purposes and forms, the beauty and wonder of our interwoven paths.

Then I came across the big padded footprints of Bear. I stopped in my tracks, thrilled and in awe, as I’d love to see a bear. Yet I don’t want to be an intruder in Bear’s territory, to be perceived as a threat to their family and home. I took a few steps alongside Bear’s immense pawprints, matching the stride, connecting with the majesty, the wildness, energy, and spirit.

Sprinkling an offering of tobacco, I shared my respect and gratitude for Bear, for the gift of knowing they are here. I took a look around in all directions, feeling my love for the vast horizons and big blue skies, for the warmth of the sun, for the soils beneath my feet, for all those living underground and flying in the air.

I honored the human beings with diverse origins, languages, and lifeways who have inhabited these river lands. So many generations have gone before, so many more to come. I acknowledged the deep healing being called for in these times.

I circled back around toward home, holding close the medicine of Bear, welcoming the gifts, sensing all of our belonging in the web of life. My heart full. Grateful. Love-full.

Bear Medicine: Bones Spirits Bundles

art by PattyMara Gourley