Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Queen of Angels and the Amphibian

Exercise time for this Burmese Python is being let lose in the activity room with the doors closed. Her name is Hera and she currently lives at BREC's Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center where I worked this summer.

While I did gain an appreciation for this type of wildlife, I didn't use extra time to 'play' with the snakes. Hera is actually getting too big to handle and will soon be moved to Florida at a preserve area that specializes in big snakes.

Snakes, interesting as they are, are still feared immediately by people who are not familiar with wildlife. Even the program aides mentioned to me after I left that children say they are taught that snakes are evil. When I was there this summer sometimes the visitors from other places surprised me with their fear or indifference for snakes that are healthly for the environment. Where I grew up, there was a large swamp that backed up to a levee and canal. In the neighborhood, we often had visitors of the no leg sort crawl up in cars or on porches, and then they'd had to be delt with. But Kingsnakes, garter snakes and grass snakes help the flow of the food chain when they visit the neighborhood.

All of these creatures are part of God's grand design. The second day at work I held a ball python named Deuce. He stayed curled up and cold. It was a little creepy at first, but the animal was very calming after I relaxed. In my mind I was trying to think of the references in scripture to snakes and why the perception is what it is. The main one I think of is Our Lady crushing the head. This image is the most visible in Catholic churches where I live in the Marion statues of the Queen of Angels.

These constrictor amphibians squeeze the last life out of their prey after the initial strike. Then they swallow it whole. Much like the capacity of addiction and sin in the life of man. But in the natural world, the prey can sometimes fight back during the struggle by clawing or knawing out the flesh or eyes of the snake. In the spiritual realm, coming up from a recurring sin can be a similar struggle.

Even though I didn't 'play' with the snakes while I was working, and I am obviously not interested in studying herpetology, I did try to educate the children and people that came in about the watershed area and pollution that effects it. I couldn't really educate about the grace of God at a state funded program, but I was educated and reflective about the role of the serpent in the foundation of the world and the image of sin.