Thursday, April 30, 2009

Country Funnin'

I’d gone up to the house to have a cup of coffee, when the truck from the lumber yard pulled up. Running out to greet the driver and show him where I wanted the lumber put, I saw it wasn’t one of their regular drivers, but a big, younger guy with a heavy Southern accent. He was shouting something over the truck engine. I couldn’t understand him, and came along the side of the truck so I could hear him better. “Beg pardon?”

“I just killed a snake,” he said, coming around the back of the truck. Just then I caught sight of an orange and yellow object coiled up on the open bed of the truck. I jumped back.

“See?” he said. “You don’t like ‘em either.” No, I don’t. I lived in a place in Central America once where there were just a few too many of them for comfort. Sometimes people would be bitten by them. But then again, I don’t go around killing them just for the heck of it. Most of them are shy, retiring, and actually beneficial.

“I stopped up here, right on the dirt road,” he said, pointing behind him, “to check the load. I thought it was comin’ loose. And there it was.”

“It was in with the lumber then?” I asked.

“No,” he said, “it was layin’ there right in the road. So I got him with this.” He held up a steel pipe, used to turn the winches that tighten the straps that held the load down on the bed of the truck. The snake, although badly damaged, was still moving.

“You know what kind it is?” I asked. I know corn snakes and milk snakes were fairly plentiful around here, and have basically the same coloring. I figured a country boy would have a name for it.

“No, I don’t,” he answered. “I don’t care what they call ‘em, I don’t like ‘em.” Apparently he didn’t have a name for it. “I’m gonna have me some fun with it, though.” We went ahead and started unloading the truck. He explained to me what he meant.

“My boss knows none of the boys in the yard like snakes. Kenny and the old black guy both hate ‘em. So he’s always putting them in the truck when they go to make a delivery. Now I never go out without checking under the seats, behind the seats, and in the glove box. Just like checking the oil, fuel and water, gotta check all them places.

“But, whoo-ee, I’m gonna have some fun with this one. Not sure where I’m gonna put it yet, but I’m gonna get ‘em back good.” He got a large piece of plastic out, and picked up the snake with two sticks, and rolled it up in the plastic. It was then I noticed that it had sort of a triangular head.

He threw the rolled up plastic into the cab of the truck, backed it around and headed out. “Y’all have a good one, now!”

It’s sort of unusual for any snake to be out on the road in the heat of the day this time of year. And I’d never seen a snake that looked like that around our place before. I’m not convinced that snake didn’t come out of the load of lumber when he stopped.

When I got back to the house, I looked it up, just to be sure. No doubt about it, it was a copperhead.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Slouching Toward Emmaus

A recent Newsweek article states that the number of Americans identifying themselves as "Christian" has declined by ten percent in the last twenty years.

A young friend of ours was no exception to this trend, even unsure about what denomination his family had identified with at one time. "Methodist, I think we were. Or maybe it was Baptist. No--Methodist--that's what it was." He found out later that it was Baptist, for what it's worth, and he's still pretty much a stranger to the inside of a church. But an unusual happening a few years ago got him thinking, maybe there is something to this whole business after all.

His work with a construction company took him up and down Florida's east coast. One day while grabbing a quick lunch at a fast food place in Deerfield Beach, an older woman whom he described as a homeless person, came up and placed something in front of him. "This old dirtbag gives me a napkin with a bible verse written on it. 'Luke' something. I threw it out and didn't think anything more about it."

"Then get this. A few days later, I'm in Miami, thirty or so miles south of there, and the same woman comes up, and hands me another napkin with the same verse written on it! I remembered it from before: Luke 24:32."

He was going to say something, but when he looked up, she was already out the door and disappearing into the crowd. "I mean, what does this mean?" he said. "Is this old lady going into every fast food place between Deerfield Beach and Miami and handing out the same bible verse written on a napkin? That's a lot of fast food places, man."

He got a bible, and looked up the verse. "It said, 'Weren't our hearts burning within us as he walked with us on the road and opened the scriptures to us?'

"It's about these two guys meeting Jesus on the road to Emmaus after the crucifixion and all. He lays out the whole thing for them, they invite him to lunch, and he just disappears right in front of them, like into another dimension. That's when they realized who it was. They were the first ones to see him after, you know, what happened."

"And the Old Testament tells exactly what was going to happen. It's all in there. You just need to look for it."

So, is He still causing hearts to burn on a modern-day road to Emmaus? Or is there an elderly lady who visits fast food joints along Florida's concrete canyons, handing out napkins scribbled with a scripture verse? Or both?