Emerging from the Outgrown

At one time we lived on a banana plantation. The snake population of that subtropical scrubland had discovered that a bunch of green bananas offered cool refuge from the heat. Unnoticed by the carters, the snakes were often brought into the packing shed still twined among the hands of fruit on the tall stems.

A carpet snake (considered nonvenomous) was brought into the shed one day. He was too big and his colors too variegated for him to escape notice; but as he seemed so scruffy-looking, torpid, and dull, we just put the bunch in a corner and forgot about him. Until, that is, we later saw him emerging from the shadows. By then he could hardly be recognized as the same snake. His lethargy was gone; he was resplendent in a new skin—or rather, in the skin revealed by his shedding the old one; his colors were jewel-bright and exquisitely patterned.

The snake's shedding of what it had outgrown provides us with a simple analogy. It illustrates the changes that take place in human beings when thought is changed from a material to a spiritual basis, from mortal reasoning to spiritual inspiration. Then the sense of man as a material being, dependent on a physical body and living by a material scale of values with all its limitations, is no longer acceptable. Growing spiritual awareness can never be contained in a constricted, material sense of reality.

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Paul and the Churches
September 25, 1976

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