It was still tacky, spread out next to the picnic table, and it dawned on me that when I had been in this very spot a bit earlier in the day, this slender stripe was not a part of the landscaping.
And now it is/was.
The skin was sticking to the grass, and before I realized what was happening, I was holding three thin sections of scaly fragileness.
“So, are you wearing gloves now?”you might ask.
Truth is, I've been wearing gardening gloves for years, because...spiders.
Furry looking legs.
I don't want to reach into one under any circumstances...
But now, the thought of that snake keeps me mindful in a different way.
Last week when I was transforming a wildly disheveled raised bed into bare dirt (I have plans!), that little snake was..somewhere.
I knew he could show up anywhere and although I didn't see him, I also did not forget him.
As I pulled out gaillardia by the roots and scrabbled out yet another daisy, I was thinking, “He could be here.”
It's just better not to be surprised by a snake.
but this was the first time
a little lesson was curled up sunning itself
beside an unseen a snake
in a garden I can't quite see either.
I'm talking about the garden that is
It's always been there, but sometimes I live as if it isn't and that always gets me in trouble. Always.
I've been around other people who seem to think their Eden has no serpent...(or they want me to think that?) and they are posers every one, and much more likely to be taken off guard by a snake they won't admit is there.
Ask me how I know this. Sigh.
Been there, lived it. Poorly.
Recently I was in a conversation where the topic of someone's egregious moral lapse was held in sharp light. There was no dodging the ugliness of the mess she'd made, but I heard more judgment in the voice of the other than I expected.
Grace seemed as elusive as the praying mantis I'm always hoping to see among the zinnias.
This woman with the strong words of condemnation...
had she never faltered in her faithfulness for just a moment?
Didn't she mean it when she sang that old hymn,
“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love?”
Was there no snake in her garden?
My thoughts kept searching for a line from the Book that I knew was there...somewhere –
and later I found it, packed with truth:
[immune to temptation, being overconfident and self-righteous],
take care that he does not fall
[into sin and condemnation]
1 Corinthians 10:12 Amplified Bible
(Or worded this way in the ESV:)
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands
take heed lest he fall.
Or one more from the NRSV:
So if you think you are standing,
watch out that you do not fall.
Life is like this more than I realized in my younger years:
Enjoy the trail,
but be mindful of the snake.
Knowing the truth of the snake in my garden helps me
to take care,
to take heed,
to watch out.
I have discovered that my own heart is deeply flawed and vulnerable to stumbling.
And but for grace, the snake wins every time.
“My grace is sufficient for you,
for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
So, yes, be mindful when you're gardening through your days. There's a snake there somewhere.
But there is also grace,
offering the strength to stand, a place to fall.
For every gardener that you meet.