Lions, and Tigers, and Bears! Oh My!

A HandmaidNews

Actually, it should be, “Bear! Oh My!” To date we have had no lions or tigers spotted at Cor Jesu Monastery and we would like to keep it that way. Bobcats, possums, raccoons, ground hogs, rabbits, snakes, etc., have all been seen but until May 23, 2024 we have had no bear encounters. In fact, yesterday’s sighting has been our first since moving to East Tennessee from New Mexico. In the canyon along the Jemez River in New Mexico there were plenty of visitors from deer and elk to bobcats, mountain lions, and bears. There are several archive accounts of bear adventures and we share some cartoons from that time. There was even the case of “Ginger Be Gladly” a large, female nuisance brown bear who had already been caught and tagged three times who had to be trapped behind our laundry using chocolate donuts as bait.

When  we  moved  to  New  Market  we  educated  ourselves  about  the  black  bears  so  famous  in  the  Smoky  Mountains  and  know to respect them and NOT feed them. Yet we haven’t seen one until now. Just as we were heading out to drive uphill to Lauds, Benediction, and Mass Mother noticed a large black animal far down the back lawn behind Cor Jesu. We were all surprised when we realized it was really a bear. Our guest seemed surprised too at the group of Nuns watching him and paused cautiously sniffing about before withdrawing. Out of an abundance of caution, we are sticking to automobiles these days and being very careful about trips to the dumpster. We have added bear spray to our wish list for each house, just in case in the future a hiking Sister might find herself in need. But we pray we will be avoiding the bears entirely and giving them the space and respect they deserve. 

A great bear book, by the way, is A Bear In The Backseat: Adventures of a Wildlife Ranger in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park by Carolyn Jourdan and Kim DeLozier.