I enjoy seeing racoons in the wild. They are cute, looking down from tree limbs. Their movements and dexterity are fun to watch. The black patches around their eyes that look like masks add to their charm.
That mask is prophetic, however. They are bandits. They enjoy nothing better than slipping in and stealing food from campgrounds. They are clever at breaking into food boxes and coolers.
While I was camping recently, a mother racoon brought her two kids for a teaching lesson. They waited, watching me from the woods. Mom then approached me cautiously and looking cute, a good ploy for getting handouts. When I did not respond like an inexperienced, giddy tourist but shooed her away, she retreated a few feet and waited patiently.
The moment I turned may back–racoon students take note–she leaped up on the picnic table, grabbed a bag of marshmellows, and ran for the woods!
In the middle of the night, I was awakened by a creeping noise behind my tent. Suddenly, the serenity of the forest was shattered by furious snarling, growling, screaming and ripping of brush. Startled fully awake, I was afraid that there were grizzly bears here in Indiana battling just outside the thin walls of my tent!
Two racoons were fighting viciously over something. I wonder if that’s where part of my supper went.
Racoons remind me of me of some people who slip into our institutions, workplaces, politics, and, sadly, churches. Seemingly friendly, they soon cause conflicts, dissention, and discord.
As civilized as we are, we are not so far removed from the wilderness of our pioneer ancestors who faced bandits. Some cautions and alertness is still in order.
“I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. Romans 16:17 (ESV)