It wasn’t until we’d brought an eight-week-old Golden Retriever puppy, Abby, into our home that we discovered we lived in an area inhabited by a healthy population of rattlesnakes.
We had never seen a rattler before in the 30 years we had lived in California. But after Abby had been twice bitten before she was out of puppyhood, I realized I needed to do something. Our property was lushly landscaped, with lots of hiding places for critters, and there was no way I could keep Abby from rummaging around in her own yard. Although I wasn’t concerned for myself, I was aware that a snake could be hiding right where I was gardening or taking a photograph of the beautiful roses we had nurtured along. So, knowing that my thought about these snakes needed correcting, I went on metaphysical alert.
This passage from Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures was in my thought frequently: “Understanding the control which Love held over all, Daniel felt safe in the lions’ den, and Paul proved the viper to be harmless. All of God’s creatures, moving in the harmony of Science, are harmless, useful, indestructible” (p. 514). All creatures are harmless—including vipers … and rattlesnakes. It is mortal mind, a flawed view of God’s perfect creation, that would suggest these creatures are venomous and dangerous. This was an idea I could grasp and quiet my thought with.
The snake of God’s creating is useful. It has a purpose, and a good one. I could see that not only could it not hurt Abby, she couldn’t hurt it. I could see a comfortable balance and harmonious reciprocity in place in God’s kingdom.
The phrase “moving in the harmony of Science” spoke to me of God’s law, which is what divine Science is. God’s law was directing the movement and route of each of His ideas, including snakes and pooches (at this point I was including all the dogs in our neighborhood in my prayers), so there was plenty of room for Abby to play and investigate, and lots of space for the snakes and their necessary habitat as well. They didn’t ever have to infringe on one another!
Mrs. Eddy continues, “The serpent of God’s creating is neither subtle nor poisonous, but is a wise idea, charming in its adroitness, for Love’s ideas are subject to the Mind which forms them,—the power which changeth a serpent into a staff” (p. 515). The marginal heading beside this passage reads “The serpent harmless.” This truth and realization was my staff to guide and support my thought, and even to lift it higher to a more spiritual view. God controls every idea, and the idea of His creating must be harmless.
Nor, Science and Health assured me, were the snakes “subtle.” By that I understood they weren’t waiting to spring out at us to harm on purpose. They didn’t have evil intentions, and we couldn’t be placed in a position to threaten or surprise them. On the other hand, they were graceful and fluid, and, I noticed, rather laid-back … very Californian in that trait!
Even though we saw a rattlesnake now and then, they and Abby never met nose to fang again over the next six years we lived there. She had learned to spot that snaky shape and avoid it, and we, her people, were quick to identify one, even if it was camouflaged in the garden—and remove it. There was no fear of them on my part, only sensible alertness. The happy and playful ease that Abby expressed as she scouted around the property was, to me, lovely proof of prayer’s effectiveness—and evidence of God’s protective care of all His creatures.
—Mary Kuhl, Bellevue, Washington