By Lyndsie Kiebert
Last Sunday, I found myself at Christ Our Redeemer Lutheran Church for the Blessing of the Hunters. I saw the event online, advertised as a chance to “receive your blessing for a safe and successful hunt this year.” Pastor Steve Heinsen would deliver the blessing as he preached from a tree stand. I figured it couldn’t hurt.
Heinsen shared several Bible passages — all regarding the bounty God provides — and prayed that the dozen or so attendees would shoot straight, kill mercifully and take only what we could use. It was a pleasant and brief gathering. I’m glad I went, and didn’t feel as out of place as I’d anticipated.
I wasn’t raised in a religious home. My parents urged me to find my own beliefs while rarely hinting at their own. I went to the occasional church service with friends and to youth group on Thursdays, but mostly for social reasons. My current religious philosophy begins and ends with a belief that things happen for a reason. It’s a low-maintenance and comforting faith to hold.
Looking back, it seems the most spiritual time of the year in the Kiebert household has always been mid-October: elk season. We rise before the sun, make a big breakfast, gather around the dining room table and trade grace for chatter about who will head up which skid road that day, who will push the elk and who will sit along the game trails they tend to run. Our worship clothes are wool and fleece, camouflage and orange. Our church is cold and damp with a soft pine needle floor, towering walls of cedar bark and a gray cloud ceiling. Our devotional passages come in the form of piecemeal text messages: “Jumped some. Downhill. U hear?”
I stood with the autumn sun against my back as the pastor read excerpts of Genesis and John. It occurred to me during that formal Hunter’s Blessing that we are constantly blessing hunting season without consciously noticing it.
We spend a September Sunday at a log landing sighting in our rifles. We take inventory of our packs — ammunition, knives, gloves, calls, toilet paper, trail mix and an extra beanie, all right where we left them last year. We thaw and unwrap the dwindling meat from last year, the result of hours — no, years — of hiking, dressing, butchering, grinding and packaging elk who came from the same North Idaho air and earth as we did.
We bless the hunt as we prepare so diligently to continue the cycle. We bless the hunt when we pass that cycle onto our children.
So whether you see it as God’s Country or Mother Nature — maybe both — enjoy every minute of it. Bless hunting season with your prayers, your boot grease and your stories of great hunts past.
When it comes to blessing a meal, I can think of no better way than to see it through from woods to plate. The harvest, in itself, is the greatest blessing of all. Let us all remember that this hunting season.
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