Thursday, November 15, 2007

A Snake In The Garden

(or, "not all snakes embody temptation")

I had an interesting experience yesterday on my second lap of the 2 mile loop around the lake. I had my headphones in walking speedily listening to some podcasts when I see a man of middle-eastern Descent holding up his hand for me to stop on the narrow path. I was extremely confuse, but my nice new headphones for my iPhone blotted out what he was saying. So, I stopped, hit pause, and popped my earphones out.

As I did so I looked down to see why he was getting me to stop. In front of me on the dead center of the path was a snake. This wasn't the first time I've seen a snake on the path, but it was the first time that the pattern of the snake rendered it almost invisible on the path. Had it not been for this nice guy stopping me, I might have stepped on it, and perhaps it would have responded in kind!

Now, I insert here that snakes are something I fear! But the guy quietly led me behind the snake. And there we stood, directly behind the snake staring at it while it sat there on the hard pavement trying to draw warmth in the cooling dusk. The man asked, "do you think If i put my bottle (green tea) down in front of the snake people will see it and not miss the snake in front of them?" I thought that was a fantastic idea, so he put it down and we watched to see if it would help and to warn fellow runners. We then began a short discussion! Here is the conversation that ensued:

Dude: See the snake is harmless if you walk behind and keep your distance.

Me: I see, actually, although I have a fear of snakes, but standing here with you looking at it, it actually is quite beautiful.

Dude: Yes, it is beautiful because God made it.

Me: (with a smile) I completely agree.... I've seen snakes here before and never thought of them that way because of my fear. But you know, that's the reason I always come to the lake to exercise. Esp. this time of year, I love seeing the beauty of God's creation around this lake.

Dude: Yes, that's why we bring our child (to which he points to his wife pushing a stroller with a small child further down the path). We show him the colors of the leaves and the birds (ducks, swans, and 2 herring inhabit the area), and tell him that Allah is found in all of them.

Me: You're right, when I'm here I really see and feel God, I'm sure your child will cherish these memories of your walks one day.

We stand in silence for a couple of seconds as the snake decides he's bored with scaring the locals and slithers off to wherever snakes go in the night around the lake. We looked at each other smiled politely as I thanked. I wished him well as he rejoined his wife and continued their route in the opposite direction of me around the lake. As I watched them go I said a prayer to God:

"Lord, thank you for your beauty and presence in your creation. Thank you for these experiences to connect with you and with my brother whom you've also created. Thank you for using something as ordinary as the lake I run/walk around all the time, a snake, and a conversation that I wouldn't have had if the snake hadn't been there, to teach me more about you! I love you God!"


  1. I love this post Justin. Amazing how these things happen.

  2. Thanks buddy,
    you're right...I sat in the man-made coffee house (but their pumpkin pie latte had to have been divine) staring at the screen again in awe of God while proofing the post and reliving that 5 min. where I felt God standing with me and the dude!

    side note:
    I meant to say how sad I was that I didn't get his name. I was too caught up in the moment! Hence the "dude".

    I really hope to see him again around the lake!!! I like to think that in some way he was feeling something similar to what I was feeling at that time!