Sunday, August 10, 2014

"Lo! There's a little snake in each and everyone of us."

A sharing with colleagues attending a spiritual retreat in Tagaytay, 2005 

Author view a snake in a glass serpentarium in Tagaytay Zoo; a reticulated boa constrictor can grow to several meters long and can devour a whole live animal.  
Dr Abe V Rotor
Living with Nature School on Blog
Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid (People's School on Air) with Ms Melly C Tenorio
738 DZRB 8 to 9 evening class, Monday to Friday

Snakes are of many kinds.  There are small and big snakes.  They come in different colors - green, black, yellow, red, orange-brown - and combinations of colors, hues and shades. This is important because snakes do not want to be seen.  So, they are masked. They blend with their surrounding as if they are not there.  That is why they are seldom seen.  Rarely has one of us seen a live snake lately, except in the zoo.

But the truth is that snakes are everywhere.  We may not see them, but they see us. They are watching our every move. They even wonder why we are always moving and doing things.  Snakes do not move around a lot.  They are docile. Once they have their fill from a solid living thing, such as a rat, they remain where they are for days or weeks. 

Distinct Qualities of the Snake

We have distinct qualities which are associated with those of the snake.  For example, we are watchful and alert, yet mild and unassuming most of the time. We have keen senses, particularly seeing and smelling, although we do not hear the way snakes do - they hear by vibration. The snake can "taste" the air and tell if there is a potential prey nearby - or perhaps an enemy.  That is why its tongue does not stop flicking in and out.  One glance is enough to make one shudder or retreat. And when a defiant animal stares too long at the eyes of a snake, sooner or later it gets disoriented as if it is being hypnotized.  If it is a bird, it merely falls into the waiting jaws of the snake.  Generally, the snake avoids confrontation.  If it cannot avoid it, it uses its venom, but only for the purpose for defense and never aggression, except for a prey.   

"There's a little snake in each and everyone of us.  And there is no exception from the time our forebears, the first man and woman on earth, were deceived by a snake."   

The First Story about Man

The story, of course, is the earliest story of man.  It deserves more than a Guinness record because the story is perhaps the most repeated story to every person, child or adult, the learned and the simpleton, respecting no race or creed or belief the world over.  The story earns another first for being the most controversial, the most debated, and because of this, the most misunderstood.  For example, what really is original sin?  With reference to the snake, the first sin is disobedience.  Now, who is not disobedient in one way or the other, at one time or another, among us?  Every time we show disobedience, the little snake in us, that part we inherited from Eden, reigns over reason.  The snake triumphs.   

If original sin is lust, it is also the little snake in us that leads us to temptation, and temptation leads us to lust. The snake laughs at us.  It celebrates victory, recounting its first victory in Eden.  Is not the story being repeated?  And each one of us suffers a second or third fall. And every time we fall into sin, we lose Paradise, the Paradise that is embossomed in each of us.

The Garden of Eden then is not actually lost.  It lives in us - if we know how to nurture it; if we believe in Nature, revere and take care of her;  if we live a life that respects natural laws; if we believe in the power and mystery of the Great Maker; if we thank Him even only by being good.  Here there is no place of the Snake. 

Common Sayings about the Snake

"There is always a snake in a forest," is favorite saying.  When things get more complicated, when situations become unbearable, competition gets too stiff, then we suspect there are people who make things go wrong.  The culprit is often referred to as the snake.

When you are called a snake, you are unreliable, and more than that, a traitor.

And yet, the term snake is synonymous to charm and luck.  It is opposite to a black cat or a bayawak which means bad luck or malas.  Dream of a snake and you have a good chance to win in the lotto.  The numbers are one (straight snake), and zero (looped).  It may be two, if it is cobra, referring to its striking position. 

The Redeemer and Mary

The New Testament brought the Good News. Baptism has deep meaning.  It is exorcism from the residue of the snake we inherited from the Fall.  It is spreading the Gospel in a liberalized way, leading to respect for others to pray and practice their religion. The snake of pride and false self-righteousness lies subdued at the feet of our faith, the Blessed Virgin Mary symbolizing the triumph of goodness over evil.   

Again, the story of Mary and the Serpent became the symbol of Mary's mission.  Had Marty succumbed to the snake when she held the dead Christ, she would not have succeeded in teaching the world the greatest lesson, to bear sorrow and offer it as the deepest prayer ever.  How many of us can truly transform sorrow into prayer?  

Let Us Amend Our Ways 

Let us renounce the little snake in us.  To many of us there is need to take the road of the Prodigal Son.  We have been the stubborn Prodigal Son too long, ignoring our state in pride and pretense. 

Others need to take the road of the Good Samaritan. There is no time more appropriate than now, if truly we are Good Samaritans. 

Maybe we should look at St. Paul the Apostle.  Let us look at the holy encounter on the Road to Damascus.  It is very difficult to make a 360-degree turn, but even a turn of a few degrees could be the beginning of a new springtime in our lives.  

Springtime is when it is not difficult to discern what is good from evil, 

  • when we can differentiate responsibility from accountability, 
  • when we know that it is more important to care than to love, 
  • when it is easy to forgive an erring friend or relative or enemy, 
  • when it is not difficult to show recognition even if we do not get an award, 
  • when it is a joy to learn and to teach, 
  • when we are no longer afraid of the dark or in a forest because a snake might be there. 

There is no snake if we renounce our evil ways.~

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