I hate snakes. Really, really, really HATE snakes.
I know, I know. Not all snakes are bad. But when I come across one, everything in me recoils. And last week, I came across three. So I’m not feeling any intellectual “warm fuzzies” for them right now.
One was under a pile of dead leaves that I picked up – with my hands – while gardening. (Lesson learned. Use a rake.)
The next – a baby – crawled into the basement through the back door, which my husband had left ajar. (Open screened windows are OK. Doors? Not so much.)
The last snake startled me the most.
One of our hounds was sitting beside the backyard fence, howling at 9:30 p.m. In a valiant attempt to be neighborly, I grabbed a flashlight and briskly set off across the lawn to fetch him. On the way, I stepped over a long silvery line in the grass. I realized what it was a split-second later. I shined the beam back onto this creature (who probably thought he could avoid humans at that hour) and I clearly saw a bulge in its middle. Yuck. Thank God for good foot placement.
None of these serpents were poisonous. And none of them were longer than 15 inches. They were probably all very young. A herpetologist would say that the presence of brown snakes and rat snakes indicates a healthy ecosystem, and would suggest that I should be grateful for natural control of the rodent population. There’s significant merit to these views, of course. Snakes were designed for a purpose. But my nerves don’t typically respond to logical arguments.
A quick Google search revealed that snakes in MD are most active in spring and fall, and they are biurnal.
Well, then. Now I know. Snakes. Night and day.
I’ve been working hard to overcome this creepy mental obstacle – ignoring my bad dreams and reassuring my husband that I will continue to help with the yard work. But having serpents in the garden dulls its shine, doesn’t it?
Serpents are reminders that things are not the way I want them to be.
I want to see flowers, but not snake skins. I want cool shade and warm sunshine, but I don’t want to share them – with creatures who don’t have legs.
And it’s the way snakes have invaded my sanctuary that irritates me.
They are stealth. Quiet. Ugly.
They inspire fear.
They are not unlike the whispers in my head that slink into my creative thoughts and rob them of joy. You know the ones….
Why are you doing this?
You are not good enough.
No one cares about your point of view.
Your contributions are irrelevant.
There are so many other people saying and writing the same things.
You should give up.
Ignoring the serpent, setting him aside, or disturbing his surroundings with bold noise so that he’ll shove off and go elsewhere – is hard, hard work. And some days, pushing past his lies takes all the energy I have.
But we are called to be brave. We are called to be faithful to what we know is Truth.
So we move forward.
We cultivate our garden so its’ blooms overshadow anything ugly lurking within it.