Three years ago two long sections
of walking trail were connected on the outskirts of Springfield, Mo., where
my wife, Peggy, and I live. We often walk there. When the trail opened, brush
was cleared away from what had been a secluded, almost inaccessible pond of
considerable size. It became a beautiful urban lake, much of it accessible,
though sometimes choked with pondweed.
A week after the opening I made
a brief foray to the lakeshore with rod in hand. I took a fish on a spinner
and dropped it back into the water. As I crouched and rinsed my hands, I saw
a dark, undulating ribbon curl past, nearly touching me. The encounter happened
so suddenly that the “ribbon” was gone before I could jump back.
I had put my hands in the pond precisely where a water moccasin had lurked,
coiled against the undercut of the bank.
Had I slid my hand into the water
an inch to the right, I might have touched the snake, and it might have reacted
with a venomous strike. And this at a place frequented by families, where
children play along the water’s edge.
I had seen moccasins (also called
cottonmouths) many times before, but always in remote places. Now, in very
short order, a wild place had become a public place.
It was clear the wild place had
not yet been completely tamed. It is good to remember that dominion over the
earth has not yet been returned completely to man. And nature, though clearly
endowed with the Creator’s artistry, also bears the marks of the curse.
All of nature’s beauty is
attributable to God. We should appreciate it and look for opportunities to
experience it. But we should also remember that we are not yet in the days
when “the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with
the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child
will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6, NIV).
What a day that will
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