by brettmerritt (bio)
“I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.” — Psalm 34:4
"Never fear." I forget this counsel often. I think I'm doing better than I was when I was younger though. I used to fear a lot of things. I was afraid of tornados, sharks, hurricanes, witches, kidnappers, Dracula, men in camouflage, green men in suits, elderly ladies, bullies, getting punched, being laughed at, Russians, people with accents, thermonuclear war, ventriloquist dummies, and snakes.
Sweet Odin's raven, I was petrified of snakes. I used to have recurring nightmares about them. Once, when we lived in Idaho, I found a harmless garter snake by our mailbox and immediately and irrationally pummeled it to death with rocks from a distance because somehow, if I didn't, it would find its way into my bed and kill me.
Most fears on this list have since left me ... but not the snakes. You remember Raiders of the Lost Ark, right? It's one of my favorite movies but I still had to close my eyes during the snake parts until I was probably seventeen years old.
You can imagine my horror when a news story was recently brought to my attention. It was about a house in Idaho located on a hibernaculum and is subsequently infested with squirmy, aggressive, anal-musking garter snakes. Have you heard about this? If not, go here or watch the video here and prepare to get what scientists call "the heebie jeebies."
Not two days after I was sufficiently freaked out by this story, I was told that we have two of these same snakes right outside our office and that they have been there for at least two summers. It was after I learned this information, shuddered to think I had walked by them every day, and let out an odd sounding sigh of "what now," that I took it upon myself to face my fear. I walked outside and looked in the area they were said to sun themselves and there she/he was. So I watched for a minute, suppressed the urge to look for rocks to hurl and snapped the picture above.
I want you to know that I fully realize these snakes are harmless. They still make me uncomfortable. And, if it didn't make me a little sweaty, it wouldn't be an irrational fear, would it? Besides, I have cast off most of my fears in favor of faith and it's been great. And maybe, just maybe, I'm on my way to conquering my final childhood fear. Just don't put one in my bed because I think I would find you and lock you in a room full of these.
What are you afraid of?