Saturday, October 28, 2006

A Snake Crawls into a Sleeping Man's Mouth - MARCH 26, 2006

There is a story from the Sufi tradition about a holy man who sees a snake crawl into a sleeping man's mouth. The holy man screams at the man, makes him eat rotten apples, even beats him until the man eventually vomits up the snake. The snake is a symbol of all the destructive patterns present in our life. In Lent we try to address these patterns. Linda Sheehan wrote an article in America entitled, "Polluted." While few of us are major sinners, still subtle evil exists in our lives. She writes:

"The nagging suspicion grows. Why can't we shake destructive patterns? Why do we keep yelling at the children about stuff that doesn't matter? Why do we spend hours watching television instead of working on the career change that would make us a better person? Why do we hurt the same people over and over? We never settle for less comfort. Why do we always settle for less kindness and honor and compassion?"

In Lent we practice the age old disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We do this to combat the snake. The snake within wants too much food. We don't eat too much. The snake wants more money, more possessions, more control. We fast, give to the Rice Bowl, sacrifice for others. The snake wants our relationships neglected. We work on them. Ultimately in Lent we draw closer to Jesus who is the one in our tradition who helps us expel the snake and live holy lives.

Fr. Bob Hawkins MARCH 26, 2006

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