By Karen Middleton
— In my peripheral vision, the object was just another black stick littering my wooded backyard. but then it reared its head.
As I watched from my raised deck, the “stick” coiled then remained perfectly still.
I didn’t want that thing in my backyard. It might slither under the door of my safe room and have babies like another snake did a couple of years ago.
So, I climbed down and chucked a few rocks at it, hoping to drive it back into the woods. All I succeeded in doing was driving the creature under the deck and from there under my HVAC unit.
But as reason slowly replaced aversion, I realized there was nothing to fear. The black snake – all six feet of him – is harmless to humans after they recover from the fright.
The black snake dines on rodents that are destructive to your property.
I’ve heard it theorized that humans’ aversion to snakes is rooted in Biblical teachings. The serpent in the garden has been emblematic of lost innocence since playing a starring role in one of our first Bible lessons. He seemed like a pretty harmless guy when Eve took up with him but then slithered off, leaving her holding the bag of nasty, lumpy original sin.
The true serpent in the garden never appears dangerous. The effectiveness of his mission depends on a disguise of innocence and even righteousness and we only realize we’ve been duped when he sheds his skin.
The serpent might come as a friend who gains one’s deepest trust and then betrays that trust, leaving a person suspicious and cynical and afraid to accept love and friendship, everyone’s birthrights.
Thereafter, even the harmless, helpful newcomer is viewed as a threat. You chuck a few verbal rocks, resulting in alienation and loneliness. The serpent won.
The serpent might come as a fundraiser for a bogus cause, pulling at the heartstrings, preying on the humanity of an unsuspecting donor, unzipping its skin of innocence just long enough to access a pocket in which to stash the ill-gotten gains.
The serpent scores a double strike. That bulge in his side is not a swallowed rodent but a big wad of your hard-earned cash. The big win comes when the bitterness of would-be donors causes them to turn their backs on those truly in need.
The serpent might also come as those who would deny the democratic process by wielding the bully pulpit as a weapon to crush principles for which millions of Americans for more than 235 years have fought on the battlefield, the floor of Congress and the polling place.
The successful challenger revels in the righteousness of his cause, while under the skin it’s more about gloating in the power of winning.