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Peacemaking At Ground Level
by Adele Azar-Rucquoi

I am a Florida native, no stranger to Florida’s formidable slithering creatures. My strained relationship with snakes began as a tot and has continued throughout my long life.

In the early forties, my father brought Mom and us kids down to Florida to make his fortune. He didn’t make a fortune but managed instead to gamble everything away except the house. Desperately he drove back north to take up his old job in a New Jersey silk factory. Suddenly we were utterly alone in our two story Spanish tiled house down a lonely coquina road of virgin palms and wild scrubs in St. Petersburg’s boonies. Uninvited Florida snakes were the constant companions of my terrified mother.

We encountered them not only on the road, but napping by our back door and lapping from the tub Mom had set out for rainwater. A singular horror that’s with me to this day is the appearance indoors of a fat, multicolored adventurer crawling up our stairs aiming, I suppose, for somebody’s bedroom. A twenty-four year old yankee transplant, Mom could only scream, frozen at the sight. (She reminded me years later that I, her four year old eldest had somehow countered with, “Mama, Don’t worry. I’ll protect you!)

Fast forward. My parents long departed, I lived alone in nearby Maitland in a three bedroom home with a swimming pool. I never swam much, but I loved meditating in the quiet of the gently wavy pool, filling hours on end with nature’s grace under the watchful gaze of a white plastered St Francis.

One afternoon that all changed in the blink of another’s decidedly live eye. A six-foot black snake slithered around the corner, on his way to the pool. By then I knew enough about these creatures to appreciate that this variety wasn’t venomous. It didn’t matter: as I watched him approach the old visceral terror took over, morphing my soul from calm contemplative to something shamefully unrecognizable and quaking.

Oh, St. Francis, how can I imitate you? Your love of animals extended to even the snake. Help!

Not only St. Francis, God, but also the Buddha -to not harm any living creature, even a visiting roach if I can help it.

Suddenly this snake raised his head and half his body up in the air like a piece of stuck wire. It was getting downright spooky.

“Go, friend.” I heard myself speak aloud. “I don’t want to mess with you.”

His eyes on me were like nothing I’d ever seen, as if he knew things that I didn’t. Then, as if in defiance, this animal slid right into the green house’s open door. Oh My God! All my beauties, my orchids and violets. It was the last insult.

Like my Mom had done years before, I screamed for my neighbor, in this case a former Air Force officer who was always ready to help solve my little emergencies. Around the corner he came, brandishing a trusty worn hoe. We both focused on the green house door, as I relayed my fear of snakes along with this strange newfound concern for my provocateur’s safety.

“I’m afraid I’ll have to kill him if I go in there.” As if he heard his death knell, the long glossy animal suddenly appeared and artfully slid right across into the waiting, perfectly peaceful pool.

Oh my God! Now, get him out of the there!

Like an Ester Williams champion, the snake deftly wiggled his way across, then simply climbed out and quickly disappeared into the back woods. We had both won.

“Gus, we just saved a life.”

Now living in historic Sanford, I confess I’ve seen a couple of these reptiles roaming my garden. And it’s true, that old fear is never far from me. So dear readers, I confess I’m not at all clear why I needed to tell you all this. It’s such a small reality. Maybe it’s enough to have put in a good word for our snake brothers. For as Jesuit paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin has advised:

By means of all created things, without exception, the divine assails us, penetrates us, and molds us. We imagined it as distant and inaccessible, whereas, in fact, we live steeped in its burning layers.

To be sure, as I rake leaves on a beautiful Sunday afternoon and train my new puppy not to bother the garden, I am forever blessed to be living here in God’s ardent love.

--Meandering$: Where Spirit & Money Find Each Other, by Adele Azar-Rucquoi, The Sanford Herald, Sanford, FL, Nov 22, 2008

Noted Spiritual writer and motivational speaker, Adele Azar-Rucquoi is the author of "Money As Sacrament, Finding the Sacred in Money." In her weekly column at her hometown Florida newspaper, as in her life-changing workshops and talks, she helps women & men, wealthy & poor, uncover a holy and healthy relationship with themselves and with their money.

Published: Dec 12,2008 07:05
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