Something interesting has changed in me regarding snakes. I never was completely freaked out by snakes, but I lived for quite a few years in tropical climates where there were a lot of venomous snakes. I almost stepped on a “2-minute snake” in Hong Kong once — that’s how long you get after a bite before you die.
Here in Colorado, we have rattlesnakes. They hang out in places where I like to rock climb and mountain bike and hike. People and pets get bitten. I’ve been rattled at two different times. Made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.
But starting a couple years ago, about the same time I’ve been experiencing major new spiritual awakening, snakes have become really beautiful. I saw a glossy snake outside our house, and couldn’t believe how beautiful its scales were. Last week, I was out on my mountain bike, and a runner coming toward me warned me there was a rattlesnake ahead. It turned out to be a big, beautiful (and non-venomous) bull snake. I stopped to watch it, struck by its loveliness, but also fascinated with myself and my new reaction. The day before yesterday, I scared up a lined snake while I was gardening. I watched it slither away, and was filled with joy.
And just now, I was out for my daily walk on our mountain. I had been doing the Beauty Way prayer: beauty before me, beauty behind me, beauty to my left, beauty to my right, beauty above me, beauty within me. Somewhere along my walk, I changed ‘beauty’ to ‘love’ because I was feeling so much love from all that is — our mountain, the wildflowers, the blue sky, the people out on the trail.
Suddenly, I thought, “I want to see a snake.” Now, this thought is pretty bizarre for me. I don’t think I’ve ever WANTED to see a snake before. But it was like I had a craving. And, as I was walking back along the trail, of course, a smooth green snake crossed my path. (I looked it up — it really is called a ‘smooth green snake,’ and that’s exactly what I thought when I saw it.) It stopped on the other side of the trail, and just watched me, flicking its tongue in and out.
What more can I say? Beauty, love, joy — I was flooded with them. My heart is full.