Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The snake in the garden

Calvin says that the Word of God acts like a pair of reading glasses. Those who wear those glasses see the world he created, the world he loves, in a whole different exposure than those who don't have those glasses on their noses.

Maybe. The older I get, the more clear it is to me, however, that those glasses don't guarantee 20/20 vision.

No matter. I'm here to say that occasionally having those glasses on my nose is a trial, even a burden. Like last week, when we went for a walk in a county park with our grandkids. Now my granddaughter can be a real scardy cat, so she was a little apprehensive as we started down the wooded path, even though she had wanted to go. The sweet child worries about things—like bears, for instance, even though there hasn't been one in Sioux County since the old black bear imprisoned in the park died of obesity.

Anyway, we’d just started out when she spotted some wildflowers and picked one. Then, a few minutes later, she saw some other variety just off the path. Lacking the courage to step off herself, she asked her grandpa to grab one for her, which I did; and immediately she high-tailed it, screaming, to her Grandma up ahead. Lo and behold, right there—at the only spot she’d asked me to step off the path—this unpleasant fellow uncoiled and came down toward her feet.

Honestly, I didn't even know what happened. She flew into sheer horror, and finally I looked down at this narrow fellow in the grass who actually rattled back at me. The thing was marvelously disguised in the leaves and undergrowth, and it waren't no garter.

I have a colleague whose greatest goal in life, it seems, is to find a rattler in Oak Grove park. He believes there were some at one time; but no one thinks there are any now. But this yuuch beast actually rattled at me. I took a picture or two, and was determined to figure out whether or not any of us should have wet our pants.

It turns out that the little devil was a fox snake, a species that has learned, smartly, to rattle in a fashion that makes intruders in his life believe he could be the deadly demon my granddaughter thought he was (and why is it I can't call that snake a she?). Such sweet deception keeps hungry admirers away, I guess. It did me anyway.

The whole incident colored her Sabbath walk, of course, as the pic above amply illustrates (no smile). But we were blessed (note the language there) that this perilous confrontation happened early on, because she did, slowly, get over it.

I’m sure, like Eve, she has no wish to ever see the slimy deceiver again, but at least she lived through it—which is its own blessing.

So this old Calvinist is perplexed because I’ve been wondering ever since why on earth the Lord, in his infinite wisdom, just happened to have one of what must be VERY few fox snakes in Oak Grove park at a certain place on a long winding path through the woods, a spot where my granddaughter--not my grandson either, but my granddaugter--had to fall victim to this beast's horrid snake-y slithering. Good night!--the likelihood of that ever happening again is nil, really. I’ve walked that path dozens and dozens of times and never seen any snake; and here, just a step off at a place where she’s fortuitously chosen, this wily biblical deceiver is sitting, hoping himself not to be disturbed.

I don't get it. Is that providence, serendipity, or just plain bad luck?

Don't know. But lest you see me coiled up myself in life's eternal mysteries, I hope you know that throughout the entire ordeal, I smiled. What's more, I had to tell her little brother to step back from the dang thing. I think he'd have liked to take it home.

Ain't we got fun?


stacieh said...

Great story! hahahahaha.
I could see my daughters doing the same thing, then never hiking with me again.

Real Live Preacher said...

Since you asked, I'll give you my thought. Just bad luck. The snakes are free to go where they will. I don't see God micromanaging it. And so are we free to come and go. Sometimes we run into each other.

My question is, with what I would expect to be God's very great ability to multi-task, why he doesn't go ahead and fix a few details now and then. Apparently, messing with freedom is a pretty big thing for God.