Tag Archives: elk hunting

Noxious Weeds: The Real Contagion

By Eugene C. Scott

The silence settled on me like an old friendship. I let go of pieces of my worry, fear, self-doubt, and tiredness with every breath. Though I had never hunted this section of the mountain before, I was home. Not just a place I called home or felt at home, but the place God birthed me, the dirt God held in his fist and blew my life into.

“Ahhh!”

Shredded mist, gray and translucent, drifted up from the dark timber, looking like the prayers and groans of creation Saint Paul spoke of in his letter to the church in ancient Rome. I offered a prayer and groan of my own.

“Thanks, God, for this piece of almost-Eden. Oh, that I could reflect your beauty like this.”

The morning felt as if this was how God intended the world to be, how the world might have looked the day before the gate to the Garden was flung open from the inside and those two naive but no longer innocent humans stumbled out. This felt like the world in which I could be who I was originally invented to be.

As the morning slid by, however, I noticed dark stalks sticking up above the native grasses and fading wildflowers. I didn’t notice them at first because they had a dark, contrasting beauty of their own. My eyes had painted the scene with an unreal perfection. These stalks, however, represented noxious weeds. Its Latin name “carduus tenuifloris” sounds lovely but actually is an ugly, natty, thorny, invasive thistle. Weeds.

Thistles

Except thistles and other noxious weeds are not just garden variety weeds. In America, sate and federal governments use the term “noxious weed” to describe a non-native plant that will–if left unchecked–destroy native plants and wildlife. Somehow these plants have been transported into an environment not prepared to resist them. Once there, noxious weeds take over and strangle the native plants and the animals that depend on those native plants.

Because of a few small weeds that could double their footprint each year, every flower and native grass, and thus the elk I love, the hawk wheeling in the morning mist, the mouse climbing flower stalks and knocking them over for seeds, was in danger. I was thankful for organizations like the Rocky Mountain Elk foundations that spends thousands of dollars and volunteer hours fighting noxious weeds.

Still an old weight and realization settled on me. This one an old unwanted friend. You see, I too am infested with non-native noxious weeds. We–all of us humans–were once pristine, unmarred, golden, perfect. Now, however, we too are being strangled by noxious weeds with beautiful sounding Latin names, “invidialuxuriasuperbiaacedia, gula,avaritia, and ira.”

If invidia (envy) or luxuria (lust) grow unchecked in my life, my beautiful wife, my fantastic children and grandchildren, my ministry, even this moment hunting this pristine meadow will be lost. Meanwhile non-native superbia (pride) will destroy my friendships and acedia (sloth) would swallow my material possessions. Gula (gluttony) will outright but sweetly kill me. Avaritia (greed) will gladly deceive me. And ira (wrath) will rot my soul.

These seven non-native noxious weeds and their thousands of sub-species have taken root in every person God ever breathed his pure, cool breath into. They invade and destroy our God-given beauty and purpose. I’ve seen some of these weeds in your life and you have seen them in mine.

It is tragic. I look closely into the faces of my two tender, gorgeous, funny, intelligent, delightful grandchildren, their eyes sparkling, hair awry, and see the dark stalks pushing up from the seeds of my unchecked noxious weeds.

But there is hope.

A woman, like you and me, over-taken by noxious weeds: prostitution, lust, self-debasement, fear, and only God knows what else, knelt and washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and long hair.

“Your sins are forgiven,” Jesus told her. Your weeds are on the endangered species list.

When Jesus died on the cross, his pure, sacrificial blood drenched her noxious weeds and began to drown them out. Just then Jesus began to restore her to her natural, pristine state. This is true for you and me too.

But killing these weeds is not about being religious, powerful, smart, right, or watching how-to TV shows, mumbling miracle mantras or whatever else we use to try to control our imperfections and sins.

Jesus’ sacrificial gift to us is about restoring creation, this nearly perfect mountain meadow surrounded by aspens turning gold, and us not-so-perfect humans as well, to its original state. No matter the state of our weedy gardens, we can be forgiven and restored. It is a gift of love.

Saint Paul again,

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Eugene C. Scott is proud to be a member of one of the finest conservation organizations around, The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and a writer who has written for Bugle Magazine. When he is not hunting, he is co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church

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Elk and Epiphanies: Standing in the Face of God

I heard him bugling and crashing down the mountain. Not coming fast—but furious. Long gaps of silence separated the crashing of rocks and breaking of branches. The dark firs across the ravine deepened those silences and covered each crash or responding bugle in mystery. I hunkered behind a low fence of junipers while my partner wailed and whistled out cow calls and bull bugles. Then he appeared, half a football field away, jet-black, covered brow tine to butt in mud. My entire frame went cold. He stood in defiance of everything and anything. From behind me, my partner bugled and the bull stretched out his neck and trumpeted back, cracking the air. Then he thrashed a small Douglas fir, dismembering it with his deadly antlers. I trembled on my haunches.

Another bugle from my partner called the elk down into the ravine separating us. A hoof clicked on a rock and it rattled down the steep bank. Water splashed. He was coming. I tried to ready myself. Silence. A dead aspen near my juniper blind quaked. My breath caught; my muscles tightened. His head popped out from around the bush and I came face to face with a five-by-five bull elk. I had never been so close to such a massive, wild, beautiful, dangerous animal in my life. Time stopped. There was nothing else in the world save that bull elk.

Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.

TODAY’S READING (click here to view today’s reading online)

Ezekiel 1:1-3:15

Hebrews 3:1-19

Psalm 104:1-23

Proverbs 26:24-26

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

A mere three yards distant, the bull elk’s gaze fell on me like the eye of God. His nostrils flared and saliva frothed from his mouth. His breath escaped in lusty chunks. I watched his left eye tremble with fury and lust. I had seen how he had destroyed that douglas fir. What could one swipe of his bone-hard rack do to me? I tried not to lock eyes with him, not to challenge him. Would he see my hands quivering or hear my heart thundering?

My partner bugled again. The bull flicked his eyes beyond me and suddenly backed out of sight. I took a deep breath and slowly turned to follow him. I snapped a stick under my knee. He was gone.

Later that night, drifting off to sleep, the bull crashed into my mind and sent my heart racing again and again. His mighty presence lived in my dreams.

That’s when I pictured God. How much more wild and powerful is God? I wondered. Is it courage or ignorance that compels us to drawn near to God? Do we actually believe we can stand tall in the face of pure Power, pure Love, pure Holiness?

Ezekiel, that rasty Old Testament prophet, could answer those questions. He fell face down after he saw a vision of God. Ezekiel tells us he was “overwhelmed.”

Was my encounter with one of God’s most magnificent creatures even a glimpse of what Ezekiel encountered? I think not. Yet my close encounter with that bull was a holy moment and almost too much for me. Waves of awe washed over me for days each time I closed my eyes and imagined that startling creature. It woke in me an intense desire to know better our remarkably creative God—to encounter Christ with nothing in between, no camouflage, no scent blocker, no avenue of escape. No matter the danger.

When is it you feel closest to God? When has God broken into your world? God often uses nature to direct our minds and hearts toward him. David sang, “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” But not all of us live near an elk herd or seascape that evokes worship and praise. Nor are all of us moved by such things. Unfortunately, in our modern well-lit world, many of us can’t even see the star flung sky God hung above us to call our hearts back home. Nor are all of us ignorant or courageous enough to seek out such encounters.

God, however, seeks such moments with us. “Stand up on your feet and I will speak to you,” God tells Ezekiel. God is a pursuer of those he loves, you and me. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to get our attention. From the midst of a windstorm, strange, four-faced creatures, spinning wheels, and flashing lightning God says to Ezekiel, “Listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”

God has something for each of us. But he is fearsome. We cannot long stand in his unadorned presence. And we need what God offers. But we are disobedient. We run away, hide, stop our ears, close our mouths and eyes and then complain God is far away.

When that bull elk stood within touching distance of me, instinct told me to bolt. I remained on my knees. That may be a good pose to hold when confronted with our wild, fierce God. I did not bag that elk. But I did not go away from that awesome experience empty-handed. So too with God. If we stand and listen to him, we will not remain empty hearted.

  1. Which passage spoke most to you?
  2. What did the four have in common?

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Eugene co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, CO and writes a blog eugenesgodsightings.blogspot.com

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