I wanted to see a moose in its natural habitat. Though it seems so small and insignificant in the face of death, for me it was monumental.
My oncologist warned that even a small bug bite could kill me, that I was far too weak to physically endure the journey, that my immune system was too frail and vulnerable. That did’t stop me. I pressed on in determination and with every intention of finding a moose. Rocky Mountain National Park was, a short 90 minutes away from home in Breckenridge, Colorado was just the place. With Amy, my best friend and business partner alongside, I set out on the adventure; the one I felt certain would be my last.
It was a classic summer’s day; clear, turquoise blue skies, light wind. Temperatures began in the mid 30’s which was average for the date and they would quickly rise to the mid 70’s, also average. God was indeed smiling on the adventure. After a few hours, crossing numerous high alpine mountain passes graced with their snow white glaciers, flocked with spruce and aspen forest, decorated with the brilliant pink of fireweed blossoms, we arrived.
The park was divided by the Great Divide; separating east from west, the craggy foothills and eastern plains from the high mountain peaks and alpine valleys. Lee and Amy, entered the western side of the park. Most visitors arrived in the park via the east gate. Approaching from the foothills of the Colorado Rockies and generally hailing from Denver, the mile high city, for a weekend getaway, it was most often hectic, traffic jammed and just far too commercial for my pursuit or interest. Forme, the much quieter, relaxed and pristine western side was where the true beauty of the park lay. Dressed in lush wetlands, alpine valleys filled with tall grasses, high mountain peaks dotted with glaciers and adorned in wildflowers, expansive aspen and spruce forests, every step taken filled the eye with wonder and amazement. Wildlife were abundant. Elk, moose, marmots, mule deer, red fox, bison and every species of bird life one could imagine roamed about the park.
Amy and I selected the same spot we generally had when visiting with our spouses; the headwaters of the Colorado River at the base of Long’s peak, a 14,000 foot work of art. Setting out on the grassy trail along the river’s edge, we carried a sense of expectation. Today would be the day. A dream was certain to come true. It would not, however, come quite as easily as we hoped.
After a grueling day of hiking and searching,my knee swollen and stiff, my body weak and frail,I was now disappointed. We had walked through numerous herds of elk, close enough to touch them in many instances. We had seen some of the most spectacular sights anyone could ever hope to discover; glacier fed lakes, snow melt filled streams, endless mountain peaks filling the horizon. No moose. Not one hint, sniff or sound of a moose.
As the sun sank slowly into the western horizon, tucked now behind the majestic peaks,we began our return home having enjoyed a beautiful, adventure filled day but with a dream yet unfulfilled. Tears welled up in my eyes as the gate neared. I knew that living in the high elevation ski resort, though equally as grand and beautiful as the park, but developed and populated, meant my chance of a true natural encounter was slim and my life was itself hangingby a thread.
One final elk herd blocked the road ahead; feeding on the tall, nutrient dense grasses and meandering their way across the road toward the wetlands below. We stopped to enjoy what I was certain was my last opportunity to enjoy such a marvelous moment of privilege and wonder.
It was then, that the dream became reality. As Amy and I took photos among the magnificent beasts, I heard a voice declare a moose sighting. Rushing through the crowd, both of elk and humans, down the steep, forested grade toward the vast wetlands, I soon found myself standing before three large, Bull Moose sporting massive and magnificent antlers that defined their maturity and strength. One lay peacefully mere feet away. There was no fear by moose or man; just a silent, surreal peace set in the lush reeds, tall, golden grasses fed by cold, sparkling waters, illuminated by the amber light of the setting sun outlining the surrounding peaks.
A crowd had gathered behind me, somehow sensing that a great story was unfolding. Tears rushing down my face like the waters in the stream before me coursing through the mountains, I stood there, frozen, not in fear but in joy. This was not only a dream come true but a life changing moment. Then and there, as if by my side, I felt the presence of God. In a voice that seemed audible, I heard, “Choose Life. I have Life for you. Choose Life.” I knew that against all the odds, in the face of the intense pain and suffering that I had the opportunity to live or die. I had the choice to make. God had spoken, in voice and through His marvelous creations, 3 moose.
I chose life. The next day, I began chemo with the understanding that remission was medically and statistically unlikely if not impossible. It didn’t matter though. My hope soared like the eagles above the towering mountaintops. I held firmly to a faith that God had spoken and when God spoke it was done; signed, sealed and delivered. Now, all I had to do was walk it out. I did and within a few months, miraculously, but not surprisingly, I was in remission.
Shocked but unwilling to admit the miracle of the occurrence, my oncologist insisted that I seize the opportunity and undergo an immediate bone marrow transplant; almost a death sentence itself at that time. I refused and believed for another answer to prevent the disease from returning and end the suffering once and for all.
As faithfully as God had delivered me from death, He provided the answer. In a meeting with a client, I discovered the power of nutrition. I realized that God’s natural provision was sufficient for my complete healing. Stepping out again in faith, I stopped all treatments and as a gift from my client, spent 2 weeks in Massachusetts learning about the provision of whole, living foods. Given the tools and the understanding, I made radical changes to my nutritional strategy. Food became my treatment and cure. Soon, fitness entered the scene and further provided healing, restoration and strength.
My oncologist told me that I would be dead within a year. That was nearly 15 years ago. I have not seen him or any other oncologist since.
To this day, I have a connection with moose. I, against all recommendations by professionals and unlike anyone I have ever encountered, can approach a moose, talk to it, photograph it, commune with it. I have been blessed to spend at least part of every year since that day living where they visit the property, raise their young and allow me the joy of their presence. And though I have now moved and may never see a moose again, I will always hold a place in my heart for the gift of their presence that day and beyond, and the beauty of the life they helped me embrace.