We skipped Church on Sunday morning. But Church didn’t skip us. Because when you very least expect it, Church happens. And sometimes it comes in the form of a snake. Yes, that’s right… a snake. We named him Chisel.
On Saturday, Henry and his friend Gio were herping (that’s the
act art of seeking reptiles and amphibians, for those of you who are not raising herpetologists). Having just moved 10 days prior, I was unpacking boxes in my bedroom when Gio comes storming through the front door: “MRS. DOYLE! MRS. DOYLE! HENRY NEEDS YOU!” I froze. When the friend comes running back to the house instead of your child, that’s not good. But thankfully, it wasn’t what I imagined.
While creek-wading, Henry and Gio had come upon a little Northern watersnake that had become lodged in a rock wall. He was completely stuck and would surely die. Henry was in fits, and needed his parents as soon as possible. Since Mark was busy installing a TV, I got the lucky short straw and followed Gio as he led me to the creek.
For those of you who know Henry, you will understand the urgency of the situation. (Henry will rescue a gnat from the house before harming it.) A lover of all animals, snakes are Henry’s true passion. Lucky me. But truthfully, I don’t mind. Compassion of any sort is still compassion. Church.
As we approached the rock wall, I have to admit it tugged at my heart a little when I saw what Gio had described.
This little guy was indeed STUCK. Watching him try to back out, or turn his little head around to come out forward– neither of which were successful– was pitiful. Pacing in the background, Henry was distraught. He and Gio had tried to help it but were helpless– which is a terrible feeling for Henry, especially when a creature is involved. Charlie had been splashing water on the snake to help him slip out of the crevice, and we borrowed a cup from a neighbor to provide a continuous stream of water. Charlie even built a little tower of rocks so the snake could support his tail and rest amid his struggle. Church.
Eventually Husband came with a crowbar and hammer to try to loosen the rock enough for the snake to slip out, but to no avail. All of this was happening, of course, in front of a little crowd of neighborhood children. (We had become quite the spectacle.) At last we decided it would be best to leave him alone for the night and revisit him Sunday morning. Except that Henry was still upset during a party Saturday night, so Mark took him back to the creek to check on the snake. No progress, but more neighborhood spectators gathered–probably thinking, “Who are these coo-coo new neighbors?!” But Mark had left a party early, to foster his son’s compassion. Church.
Sunday morning came. Church Day. Normally I would be rushing to get three kids and myself ready for Worship. But instead, I watched as my family headed out the door toward the creek. I have to confess that I prayed mightily for that snake, because a bad outcome for him would be a bad outcome for Henry. Plus, I really did feel for the little guy. Both of them. Honestly, I was afraid to go to the creek… so I just stayed home and prayed. Church.
It wasn’t much later when Charlie came screaming through the doorway, “MOM! WE SAVED HIM! HE’S FREE! HE’S FREE!” Charlie was so excited to tell me how happy Henry was. How his Dad was able to rescue him with a different little tool. Mark said it took less than a minute to free the snake with his nail press. Just a little chisel did the trick. Sometimes that’s all it takes. Not a heavy crowbar and a pounding hammer, but a nail press and a little chisel. And some tender rain from the night before… Church.
Chisel was missing a few scales and had a small wound from the rock, but overall was in great shape. So Henry brought Chisel back to our back yard, gathered materials from our creek, and built him a habitat. Chisel spent the day ‘playing’ in Henry’s room. It was Henry’s intention to keep him for a couple of days to let him heal before releasing him…
But Chisel had other plans. Despite a lid (with small air holes) being placed securely on the cage, Chisel was sneaky (he’s a snake, after all) and joined our family in the den Sunday night. I’M SERIOUS. Somehow that snake got out of his cage, slithered down the stairs, and found us in the den. WHAT THE WHADDYA-WHA-WHAT?!?! Out of the millions of little places he could have crawled (SHUDDER!), Chisel appeared IN THE DEN. WITH US. Um… Church?
So needless to say, we took it as “a sign” that Chisel was ready to be free. Truly free. So Henry did what any good herpetologist would do. He gave him a proper release party…
So there, in the creek behind our home, ended Church on Sunday night. The service was best summed up when Henry joyfully said to me, “Mom, WE SAVED A LIFE today!”
…Because isn’t that what Church is all about?