St. Patrick

“You will move on your belly
and eat dust all the days of your life.
I will put hostility between you and the woman,
and between your seed and her seed.” Genesis 3: 14-15

Growing up in south Louisiana, you learn about “snake moving season.” Anything muddy, bushy and overgrown is considered “snakey” and you don’t trample through those areas barefoot. Many family legends include those little devils as main characters, like the time my grandmother swore a black racer chased her from the pond to her back porch, or the time my teenaged aunt courageously jumped over a cottonmouth on the living room floor where I, a baby, was playing. She swooped me in her arms, ran out the door and called for help.

I’m terrified of snakes. I have reoccurring nightmares involving the slithering serpents; they slip up my leg and bite me. I always forget what the snake looked like, and therefore can’t receive the right anti-venom. When I finally wake up in a cold sweat, I instinctively check the place on my body where the snake bit me in my dream. It’s only a figment of my imagination, but the fear is real.

I had a meltdown Tuesday. I noticed a mockingbird screeching and flapping her wings awkwardly near our back porch. I observed closely, thinking she was hurt. But then I saw what she was screaming at: a two-foot long, dark gray snake coiled up at the bottom of the porch steps.

I frantically shouted for my dad to come. Seconds later I looked back out the window, and the snake was nowhere to be seen. That’s when the hot tears rolled down my face, and I found myself crouched over gasping for air. I’m not kidding – I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown all because one snake had slithered away from the vibrations I’m sure he felt from my bellowing for help.

The only thing that my dad could do to somewhat calm me down was to reassure me I would be away from snakes for a whole month in Ireland. I leave tomorrow for the Emerald Isle, and I am so thankful God blessed Ireland without any snakes. As Irish legend goes, St. Patrick fasted for 40 days until he drove all the snakes into the sea and away from the island. We know now that due to glacial waters, snakes were never able to migrate to Ireland. Either way, I am elated that I am going to a place for a whole month where I don’t have to fear for snakes. God bless Ireland, and God bless St. Patrick!

St. Patrick drives all snakes from Ireland into the sea.

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