"Fear not!" - Isaiah 41:10
"There's a six foot boa constrictor at the farmer's market down the street!", the couple called out as they drove past.
Although I am afraid of snakes, this time I did not walk away but walked over by the four-year-old boy to stand and stare, hands in our pockets, at the great snake on the ground with the twitching tongue.
I snapped a few pictures from a safe distance and soon wandered off past the sign "Hold the Snake for $5" wondering who would do that and I with more sensible things to do.
Only to come back, as the little boy wandered away hand in his mother's hand.
Why is it that I sometimes can't be content to just sit by the pool? To do common, everyday things? Why is it that I must sometimes do the very thing I do not want to do, that won't let me go until I do?
But "almost" and "thought about" do not make a story and I am here to tell one.
So I ask the questions:
"Do they bite?" (Yes)
"Does this one?" (No)
"How do you hold a boa constrictor?" (Be a tree)
And having no way out but through I stand, arms outstretched, silent and straight, eyes shut, holding my breath.
And find wrapped around my neck and arms 6 feet, 80 pounds of pure muscle and strength.
And I break out laughing, trembling with delight at what has been found on the other side of fear.
So yes, of course, ask "why?" but then, "why not?"
Drop the five dollars into the can.
Empty your hands.
And find the life you now can call your own.
On the other side of the great cavern of fear that is before us and within us, help us find the courage to empty our hands, and receive the life beyond our fear that you are longing for us to live.
Peter Ilgenfritz is a Minister and Member of the Leadership Staff at University Congregational United Church of Christ, Seattle, Washington.