Danger at our feet

By Deacon Mike Seibert

Connecting Faith and Life

Ever think about the moment right before Eve ate the fruit? The snake slithered right up to her, and she didn’t recognize the danger. Maybe she didn’t even notice it at her feet – almost stepping on it. With her guard down, the snake was able to convince her that eating the sweet fruit would be kinda cool. 

A few years ago, some friends Dave and Myra came to visit while we were making homemade maple syrup. It’s a very time-intensive process where we cook sap in a 30-gallon kettle to boil off the water. (It takes 30-40 gallons of sap for one gallon of syrup.) For hours – even days, the only thing to do is feed the fire every 30-45 minutes to keep it boiling. It’s not hard – it just takes tenacity and commitment – but the sweet syrup makes it worthwhile.  

Well – around noon, the weather was unusually sunny and warm, so we decided to go for a hike. Dave spotted an old, abandoned house just a couple hundred yards off our property line. It’s falling down and trees are growing right up against the walls. It’s become such a common sight to me, that I rarely even notice it. Reminds me of some junk in my basement which got set somewhere 10 years ago; it’s become part of the furniture, so my mind doesn’t even NOTICE it anymore. It’s all at my feet, but I don’t see it.

Anyway – Dave and I hiked over to this house with the intention of hiking around the property line afterward. I headed for the back door because I was checking out the hand-hewn stones used in the basement. As I stepped up toward the door, I felt something on my foot – something familiar – although I didn’t consciously recognize what it was. Turns out, it was a nail – an old rusty nail, sticking straight up toward the ball of my foot.

Well — my brain did not register this as a problem. See — I was a firefighter for 22 years. We were stepping on nails all the time — seriously — but the difference was we wore steel-shank boots. Over the years, my brain got used to stepping on nails — and the feeling you get when the nail bends under the weight of your foot — it’s actually kind of a cool feeling. So when I stepped on this nail, my brain recognized the feeling, but it did NOT recognize it as dangerous. In fact, it registered as something “kinda cool” … so it did NOT tell my body to STOP! Microseconds later, my brain got the message of PAIN!! But by then, my body was already moving forward and I drove my foot down onto this nail with my full body weight. Now — it probably only went in half an inch — but it felt much deeper. Tennis shoes don’t have steel shanks.

Here's the moral: When we experience something over and over and don’t recognize the inherent dangers, we become sort of immune to it. Our brain tells us it’s OK — nothing to worry about. Same thing with junk in the basement — it’s been sitting there 10 years and hurting nothing, so there’s no need to bother with it TODAY. We don’t notice the snakes at our feet.

In a way, Adam and Eve might be excused for blowing it in the Garden of Eden, because they had no experience dealing with evil. They’d not been lied to before. They didn’t even KNOW to watch out for snakes.

Unfortunately, you and I HAVE had experience dealing with the snake — convinced by his lies that this thing or that behavior or that habit in our lives is no big deal — it’s been there for 10 years; no need to worry about it TODAY. Our mind deceives us into believing there is no problem and in fact, it’s kinda cool.

Look around … what is at our feet that we don’t recognize as dangerous? What habits have we had for so long that we no longer realize they’re deadly? Fortunately, the new Eve DID step on the head of the snake. Ridding ourselves of those snakes takes tenacity and commitment, but sweet success awaits.