17 Cheshvan 5782 / Saturday, October 23, 2021 | Torah Reading: Vayeira
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The Grouchy Grizzly    

The Grouchy Grizzly

…the bear was a mere eighty feet away, he roared again, opening his mouth and exposing a full set of pearly white stilettos. Jerry envisioned himself...


Now that we've learned about the different levels and causes of anger, we'll see how anger damages the quality of our lives.
Angry people wouldn't be such a problem if they only harmed themselves. Bad-tempered people though, like grizzlies, create tension in the environment. Consciously or otherwise, they prevent others from living tranquil lives. Like the old adage says, misery loves company.
Grizzly bears exhibit classic angry behavioral patterns. By observing the habits of a grizzly, one can learn a substantial lesson about anger. See for yourself, as I tell you a story about a bear that lives in a cave near Lupine Valley, not far from Old Isaac's Inn. Everybody in the area calls him "The Grouchy Grizzly of Lupine Valley."
The Grouchy Grizzly of Lupine Valley
Deer Haven, the home of Zachary and his herd, ends a mile from Bear Ridge. Zachary, the cautious venison monarch, maintains a healthy distance from the grizzlies. Bear Ridge overlooks a breathtaking valley carpeted with rare blue and white flowers - Lupines.
The valley is actually a plateau. Its dark gray soil is highly fertile and well aerated, full of pumice - small perforated rocks that resemble sponges. Both the soil and the rocks are of volcanic origin. Local tradition says that the volcano last erupted six hundred years ago, and probably would have erupted again, but it remains dormant in deference to Old Isaac.
Lupines are from the legume family and first cousins to the pea and the lima bean. They thrive in volcanic soil. At the end of the summer, the fertilized flowers become a pod filled with four or five lima-sized beans. Lupine beans are quite tough and bitter. But, if you boil them seven times, change the water with each boil, and then salt-and-pepper them, you have a nutritious and delicious protein-packed snack.
The Lupine flower carpet is an exquisite creation. All the birds, insects, and animals of the area - except for one infamous, calamity-prone exception - adhere to an honor code that forbids trampling the flowers.
Only the bees are allowed in the flower patch, since they facilitate pollination and fertilization of the flowers. States that are fortunate enough to host natural fields of Lupine flowers usually grant them official nature preserve status. This magnificent view is certainly worth recording, both on film and in the heart. What serenity…
"Grrrrrrrowwwl!" The ground shudders from the thunderous roar. It can only be one of two things - either the volcano is reawakening or Grouchy Grizzly is having his annual war with the bees. The legend about the volcano's deference to Old Isaac is quite reliable, so it's probably the latter.
There he is, trampling the flowers - all seven feet and seven hundred pounds of Grouchy Grizzly - the lone offender of the area honor code. 
Grouchy Grizzly is no run-of-the-mill bear. He qualifies as one of the senior professors of the University of the Trail; if we were to have a curriculum catalog, it would list:
Faculty of Anger: Anger 202 - The Damages of Anger - Dr. G. Grizzly - 3 credits, MWF 9-10, Lupine Valley Hall
Grouchy Grizzly is a superb lecturer on the damages of anger. He demonstrates everything he teaches.
Most of the birds and animals in the forest are patient and loyal husbands, but Grouchy Grizzly fails to get along with his mate. Don't even dream about him having a peaceful relationship with any of the other inhabitants on Mount Patience.
Once a year, he remembers his she-bear, and makes a conjugal visit. For Mrs. Grizzly, one day a year is enough to contend with a 700-lb. sack of anger and self-indulgence. The following day, she moves back to her own cave by the river to raise her annual cub or two. He lives like a hermit in his own cave on the ridge, not far from here.
Grouchy Grizzly will go out of way to create conflict. Here's an example:
Old Isaac took Jerry Miller with him on the eighteen-mile hike up from the inn to the top of Mount Patience. Here in Lupine Valley, Isaac taught him about personal prayer (which we'll be discussing later, in Chapter Nine).
Once Jerry learned the basics, Isaac sent him on his own, and told him to begin talking to God in his own words.
Isaac stood by an old oak tree, and began singing the most beautiful praises to the Almighty that you ever heard, in his own original melodies and in his own words. He has a tenor voice that can make a boulder cry. Jerry once caught him singing in the barn, and all the goats were standing on their hind legs and bleating in enthusiasm.
Back to our story: Jerry walked a few hundred feet away, and began pouring his heart out in personal prayer. Overcome with the beauty of the surroundings, he closed his eyes and let his heart soar. He felt an uplifting of spirits in a way he never before experienced.
Just as Jerry was getting into the spiritual groove - "Grrrrrrrowwwl!" His heart collided with his large intestine, and his knees began a percussion accompaniment to "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." Approximately two hundred feet in front of him was a snarling, growling grizzly bear of quite intimidating proportions.
Jerry's throat contracted and his mouth was as dry as the Sahara Desert. He thought he was about to be the suggested entrée on a hungry bear's menu.
"Grrrrrrrowwwl!" The grizzly began to pace stealthily in Jerry's direction. Jerry's heart pounded like a sledgehammer on a granite quarry.
Jerry glanced up to the Heavens with a silent two-word prayer of "Please, God." He glanced over his shoulder - Isaac was as equidistant to his right as the bear was in front of him.
Without saying a word, Isaac waved his hand and summoned Jerry to approach him slowly and calmly. Step by terrifying step, Jerry began inching his way toward Isaac, while the grizzly bear continued to progress menacingly in Jerry's direction.
Jerry's pulse seemed to be as deafening as Niagara Falls. Alternately, he took a step, and the bear took two, gradually coming closer. When the bear was a mere eighty feet away, he roared again, opening his mouth and exposing a full set of pearly white stilettos. Jerry envisioned himself being ripped to pepperoni-sized shreds.
When he finally reached Isaac, Jerry grabbed his hand, squeezing it like a vice. Inexplicably, he felt calm and safe in Isaac's presence.
Isaac looked the bear straight in the eyes, and smiled. The bear was a mere twenty feet away. Slowly, the grizzly circled them seven full times, then walked away to the forest - a most bizarre spectacle. That is, until the next story you're about to hear. (Why was the bear afraid of Isaac? You'll soon find out.)
To be continued . . .
(The Trail to Tranquility is available in the Breslev Store.)   


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