Friday, October 24, 2008

The serpent

Ever since I picked up a rock when I was five or six years old and found a snake coiled up underneath it, I have had an aversion to snakes. Up at the cabin, whenever we went on a hike, I had to walk in the middle of the line or right next to one of my parents. I was afraid of even seeing a snake. Needing to go to the outhouse meant someone had to come with me because once I saw a Blue Racer all stretched out on a sunny stretch of the dirt road, and who knows, he might come back.

I have to admit, I still don't like snakes. As part of my kids' birthday party one year, we had a friend who was an expert on reptiles and snakes bring a few of his "pets" over in pillowcases. (My husband "bought" his service at a church auction.) I reluctantly agreed, but said "show and tell" had to stay on the porch. The party guests seemed to have a great time while my skin crawled.

Sometimes when I am writing, I have to wonder where my ideas come from. Poor Karl Stern is sentenced to scrub the church floor on a Saturday for a misdeed that was not of his doing, and what do you think he sees carved into the floor right next to the altar? A snake of course. It's a reference to Genesis 3:15, where the Lord is coming down hard on those first sinners, Adam and Eve; coming down even harder on that serpent who got them to eat the wrong fruit. The Lord says to the snake, I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between her offspring and yours; he will strike your head, and you shall strike his heel.

I knew that I'd heard of a church somewhere that had a serpent carved into a stone floor, then realized I had family connections to the congregation. I took the photo above when I was there for a conference over a year ago.

Months after he sees the serpent carved into his church floor, Karl finds himself battling snakes in a horrible nightmare. I guess most dreams have their origins someplace in reality. I find that to be true for writing fiction, as well.
Until next time...

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