Windows of Salvation – The Serpent Surrounding the Earth
Well, we are back to snakes again, but this time, our window pictures the snake completely surrounding the earth. Probably many of us learned from an early age that the most dangerous snakes are broken down into two categories: those that kill their prey with quick strikes and venom from their teeth, and constrictors who completely surround and envelop their prey, slowly squeezing it to death. Interestingly, while the general understanding of constrictors is that they suffocate their prey, recent studies have shown that in fact, constrictors cut off the blood flow in their prey. While a creature can survive for a short time without breathing, the same isn’t true for a body without a heartbeat.
The stained-glass window in our church depicts the serpent doing just that to the earth – slowly constricting it and cutting off our precious lifeblood. These past two weeks, we have been reflecting on the symbols representing the Fall our First Parents, but what about what happened after? How were things different after the Fall? The harmony between our souls and God was broken, but so were all the harmonies dependent on it: the harmony with nature (“Cursed is the ground because of you! In toil you shall eat its yield,” [Gen 2:19]), the harmony between our bodies and souls (illness and death entered the world), harmony between men and women (Adam blames Eve for the Fall), and even harmony between brothers (Cain murders Abel in Gen 4). In this way, we can understand the symbol on the window, with the serpent cutting off the flow of the lifeblood on the earth.
We know the feel of that break of harmony in our own lives, and how when our lives are constricted by busyness or tension, or with some sin we’re struggling with, our relationships with our families, neighbors, and God can break down. But where that lifeblood is being cut off, Jesus strives to pour his life back into us by giving us the gift of his Body and Blood in the Eucharist. So when we look around the world and see the marks of that wicked serpent constricting it, let’s not lose hope! Christ is here to rescue us!
Oh God, we plead with you, take away evil from our lives. Fulfill the promise of salvation you made long ago, pour your life into us, and let us be free!