Every boy, while growing up, loves to catch things. Things like birds, snakes, lizards, bugs, crawdads, water-skeeters and everything that slithers or slinks. It’s what they do. Naturally, the next  best thing to do with whatever it is that we catch, is to keep it as a pet, and then create a natural habitat in a shoebox, and keep it in our room.

In a normal house, however, the new “pet” will have to pass through the Mother sentinel that stands guard at the door inspecting all of the contents of the boys pockets, and mason jars, in order to prevent an infestation inside the house of whatever it was that was caught that may slink or slither.  From the boys perspective, it is like trying to sneak a .50 cal sniper rifle through the TSA checkpoint in New York City. It is very difficult.

But it has happened.

This story happened when I was about 9 or 10 years old. We lived in a super old house that was more like a museum than a house. It was tiny, but the yard was huge. In fact, the back yard was graded so that once a month or so, when we got the irrigation day, the whole entire yard would flood. It was sweet. Beyond our back fence was a huge tree “forest” that might as well been the amazon jungle to us at the time.


Casey preparing for Brothers weekend in moab.


A small flood. Notice the “jungle” beyond the white fence.

One day, on one of our treks through our private jungle, I found a snake. Or, if I remember correctly, Tyson or Casey found the snake, and I came and caught it. It was awesome. It was probably a garter snake or some tiny harmless thing, but to us it was like me basically being Riki-Tiki-Tavi and a snake charmer at the same time and hunting a man-killing giant pit viper in the middle of the jungle. After eluding almost certain death, there was no way that I was going to risk this prize catch getting confiscated by the mother sentinel on the way to my room.

So, I did what every other 9 year old genius would have done. I grabbed a shoe box, pulled up 3 handfuls of grass, shoved them in the box, then placed the snake inside, and closed the lid. He would be comfortable, safe, and be basically living in the lap of luxury in that shoebox. What could go wrong?

All I had to do now, was sneak it in the house. My room I shared with Tyson was in the basement. It wasn’t just any basement, it was a roughly finished basement of a super old home built in 1916. (Not kidding, I looked it up). It would probably be more fitting to call it the catacombs instead of our basement. It would make the perfect home for our new pet.

After sneaking the box into the house, by way of a thoughtfully choreographed with a well executed timely distraction provided by Tyson, I set the shoebox on the foot of my bed. We would sneak peeks at it every 20 minutes or so, just to see how he was adjusting to his new home.  At the end of the day, we went to bed with dreams of what we would do to catch prey and release it into the box and watch it attack and destroy. Life was good in that basement dungeon.

Early the next morning, I arose with great excitement. I hopped up and wandered over to my snake box, and peered in. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Just matted old grass clippings. I looked up, looked under my bed, looked under my covers, then looked over at Tyson to make sure he was still there and not dead from the bite of our deadly pet. I then looked around at the rest of our room, out of the door and at the rest of the basement. All I saw was our hodgepodge of storage boxes, old furnace equipment, and basically a snake’s garden of Eden. There were millions of hiding places, dark corners, and nesting spots. It was a goner.

I quickly realized that it was likely that in the next few weeks our basement would probably become much like the snake pit in Indiana Jones (see photo above), and be quite uninhabitable for us humans.

I also began to realize that I really wasn’t able to contain that snake in a simple shoebox. I had thought I could control him, contain him, keep a lid on him, enjoy him whenever I wanted, and then return him to his little tiny corner and go on with my life. But, he was a snake, and snakes act like snakes and are sneaky, slinky, and tricky. They will get out. I had learned something very important that day…

Don’t bring a snake into your house.

A lot of different kinds of snakes are slithering all around our homes. They all start on the outside, and that is exactly where they should stay. But, all to often, we get enamored by them, and fascinated by them. They are new, novel, shiny, interesting, and cool. Sometimes, we even invite them inside our homes. We try and control them, keep a lid on them, and keep them as a pet. But, it never works out like we plan. They slip out, and get away. They are snakes after all, that’s what they do. Before long, they infest our home, and soon, we are Indiana Jones dangling from a crumbling walkway above our self imposed snake dungeon, and we need to be rescued.

It’s always better if we simply don’t let snakes in the house. Or, it’s always better if we don’t let THE snake in the house. He is a serpent, and he wants to beguile us, and destroy us. Our homes should be our sanctuary and an escape from the dangers and perils and venomous vipers of the world. But, too often we want to invite those dangers in, just for a day or two, we can control it, keep a lid on it, and then let it go after we have our fun for a while. It won’t work. It doesn’t work with garter snakes, or our favorite sin or bad habit that we have. They get away from us. And then we are in real trouble. Our spiritual lives hang in the balance this time.

Little bit by little bit, we need to try and clean out all the snakes, small and seemingly harmless, or massive and venomous. Because ultimately, we can’t control them, we can’t keep a lid on them, they’re sneaky, and slimy. They are snakes after all, and they will act like it. And if we bring them in, or invite them in, they will take over the house.

These snakes come in many shapes and sizes and colors. They also come in varying potencies. Some may just leave a mark after they strike, while others may be deadly. But they are all snakes. They may be the drug snake, the media snake, the gossip snake, the immorality snake, the laziness snake, the pride snake, the contention snake, or the natural man snake. We all know which ones we tend to let hang around.

We all know to which snakes we are most susceptible. We know which ones tend to charm us with their cunning and sneakiness.  The chief snake of all is also very aware and that’s exactly why he sends the most attractive, cool, hip, and popular snakes to try and charm us.

His goal is to have all of our homes infested with his sneaky, slimy slithering minions.  He has to attack us in the place in which we find refuge, peace, quiet, and love.  Inside our homes.  We cannot let him do this. We have to recognize the snakes that we are allowing into our homes, and gather them up and take them out to the woodshed, and dispose of them. Lets all clean house, and try and maintain our homes as the quiet refuges, and sanctuaries from the world that they should be.

Let’s all try a little harder to keep our homes snake free.