Okay, so I stumbled across a Tree Star today…well actually it was yesterday but it took a day for it to sink in. I was on my daily walk/run/walk and saw my first snake of the season. First off, let me just say that snakes are one of the Big Three for me in the fear department. I’m terrified of them and hate them in equal measure. My trifecta is rounded out by Sharks, and Tornadoes, in case you are interested.
Dear God, please forgive me for having such a strong negative reaction to your creations. Amen.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve
hated feared snakes. In junior high school, I had a beautiful Biology teacher named Mrs. Bobbi Christensen. She handled snakes with ease and even smiled when she was holding them. I admired her and wanted to grow up to be just like her…. a beautiful scientist who handled snakes. That year, I tried to learn to handle them….but… I …just…couldn’t. When my boys were little, I figured I’d give it a another go, maybe buy them a pet snake, and try to learn to like them….but… I…just …couldn’t. Early in my teaching career, I thought about getting one for my classroom and then it wouldn’t have to live in my house. I didn’t. I also considered a 12 step program. I didn’t do that either. When I would try to hold them, my reflexive action was always to scream and toss them in the air. Yes.. I am NOT proud.
Even yesterday, I jokingly wrote on my FaceBook status that I subscribe to Lewis Grizzard’s theory of snake identification, “if it doesn’t rattle, it’s a cobra”. Sadly, I realized that I do that. I lump the whole species into two categories of evil and more evil. I must admit that those National Geographic specials really don’t help their cause in my book very much. Those camera shots that take a full on, open-mouth, fangs dripping fatal toxin strike to surprise an unsuspecting snake phobic like myself are pretty high on my terror meter. Hello, Mr. Cameraman, was that your last picture?
However, today I realized that I am missing something. All snakes are not bad. Revelations come slowly to those who wait I suppose. However, I discovered I am missing the ones that are helpful to us and to farmers, the ones who are harmless and just trying to live their lives camouflaged by their surroundings, the ones that are beautifully colored and fluid in their movements and inspire awe of God’s creation, the ones that strike only in an attempt to defend themselves, in addition to the ones that remind us that evil does exist in the world. I discovered that maybe, just maybe, I do that with people too sometimes. I’m obviously aware of and sensitive to the dangers of stereotyping a race or a culture. But let’s face it, our world is filled with categories that aren’t on our beware of stereotype radar screen. It is in these that I stand convicted. I make an opinion based on an encounter and lump the entire group under my negative umbrella, just like I’ve always done with snakes. I am missing the ones that are helpful, harmless, awe inspiring, and those that are defensive for a good reason.
I am not promising that I am going to go out and handle snakes, but once again, nature has given me a powerful reminder.
“Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” John 7:24