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Small, Pretty and Deadly

Recently I was enjoying a fast-paced hike on one of the many trails in the mountains around Simi Valley. I hadn’t been hiking very long when I observed a lady with two small dogs ahead of me.

I picked up my pace, determined to pass her as quickly as possible. When I got up close, I noticed her little dogs were, in fact, miniature Dobermans. We exchanged friendly greetings, and I walked even faster to reclaim my space.

Perhaps a few hundred yards further along, I saw what appeared to be a small stick about a foot long on the trail ahead. I kept my eyes on that stick as I approached. I noticed it was covered in a lovely and intricate pattern. My brain searched frantically through the files of my outdoor experience, and I concluded that the stick was really a snake.

It was a pretty little snake. It wasn’t moving and was unusually straight. I have no particular fear of snakes, so I approached cautiously until I was close enough to see that this pretty little snake was alive. At about the same time, the snake became aware of my presence and let me know I was too close for his comfort by shaking his few little rattles. My brain took in this new information and concluded that this pretty little creature was, in fact, deadly.

The lady with her two small dogs was now only about 50 yards away, and she asked me what I’d found.

“A little snake,” I said.

She stopped immediately. She explained that her dogs’ curiosity could be bad for all the pretty little creatures. I located a long stick and gently assisted the little rattler to the side of the trail, where it decided the shrubbery was a safe place to escape.

I continued on with my exercise, grateful for the opportunity to see one of God’s creatures in its natural element. As I picked up the pace, I smiled to myself. Old lessons are repeated again and again in God’s creation.

by Chaplain Ron Hyrchuk

July 5, 2007