I do not care for snakes, not in the least. One time, on a tour of a coffee plantation, the tour guide thought we'd all enjoy meeting their prized python. Passing the snake from guest to guest, he came upon me: a shivering, sobbing ball neatly tucked between the seats. I bear no ill will, just that they live far, far, faaaaaar away from me. Then farther.
A few weeks back, our family spent an incredible week at my dear friend's house in Florida. I think we maybe both had some reservations about what hosting this family of four would look like, especially for a whole week (I grew up hearing, "fish and houseguests are only good for 3 days") and I think we were both pleasantly surprised! That's a funny conversation to have: how do you say, "Wow, I thought it might be a disaster having you here and that I'd never want to see you again but it was totally great!" My dear friend had a pool and grandchildren so my kiddos were happy as could be. My dear friend had two spare bedrooms and a yoga studio, so my husband and I were happy as we could be. All that on top of spending time with my dear friend! And then...I was admiring the way the light made shadows on a particularly dreamy corner of her yoga studio when I saw the snake. It was on the other side of glass, and it was very skinny and very still. I hollered for someone to come quick, but this time I was more mesmerized than paralyzed. It was almost as if the universe paired us up, me a very squeamish snake fan and she a teensy, well-mannered snake. And there was glass between us. Nobody else was around, and when I see an animal in this way I get curious about the message of crossing paths. I like Ted Andrews' book, Animal Speak for questions like these, a wonderful book that reads like an encyclopedia of American Indian animal medicine. "When the snake comes into your life you can look for new powers of rebirth into creativity and wisdom"
What came to me was, not so much that creativity and wisdom are on their way but that they are already here and I've been too scared, irrationally scared, to face it. Tucked into my friend's lovely home where I felt so well cared for, with some of my most favorite people in the world, perhaps the snake thought I might be ready to face some fears. She was right, and I found for myself what I so often tell others: there is nothing too dark that self-inquiry can't illumine, and it's all less scary in the light.