Walking down a country road, the man approaches a rattle snake on the side of the road. The man knows to stay away from this deadly animal but, from his distance, the man notices the snake is injured. More than injured, he is very bloody and his flesh is torn as though he had been attacked by another animal and left to die.
Filled with compassion, the man feels as though he must do something to help this injured snake.
He could finish the job the attacker had started. It wouldn’t take much to kill him. His next thought was, “perhaps there is another solution.” The man took off his jacket, wrapped the snake and took it home.
Once home the man created a comfortable resting spot for the snake and carefully began to clean and dress it’s wounds. The snake was very weak and seriously injured. The man was not sure the snake would even live through that first night. It did live and in the following days he approached the animal several times a day and administered salve to the wounds.
The snake began to move slightly. It was almost not noticeable but the man was certain the snake was getting better. He carefully fed the snake, bathed the snake and took care of its wounds. A bond began to develop between the man and the snake. The man would talk to snake encouraging him to eat, praying for a complete healing from the damage created by the attack. And days and days and days went on.
When the man could see the snake was trying to begin to slither around in his confined area, he build a large enclosure for the snake. Finally the snake was moving almost as he normally should. The man continued to provide food and water. He continued to put salve on the last of the open wounds. He would run his hand down the length of the snake and comment on its beauty and regaining strength.
The man had nursed the snake for months. Daily the majority of his time was devoted to the creature’s care and comfort. He truly felt a connection between himself and this animal.
Then one Tuesday he went in to the enclosed area with his snake as he had for many, many Tuesdays. He crouched down with the animal and begun to run his hand down the length of the snake. The snake reared and bit the man injecting him with the rattlesnake’s venomous poison. In disbelief the man jumped back. He could not believe this snake that he had saved from death on that country road, that he had brought home wrapped in his jacket, that he had cleaned, nursed and fed daily for days and weeks and months could bite him knowing the venom would kill the man.
In an already weakened state, the man asked the snake, “how could you do this? Why did you do this?” And, he heard, as if the snake were actually speaking to him, “you knew what I was when you picked me up”.
For the alcoholic, alcohol is like the rattlesnake’s venom. It is always poisonous.
The alcoholic, should he choose to recover in Alcoholics Anonymous, has access to a simple kit of spiritual tools that render the rattlesnake venom deadly poison free as long as the alcoholic believes what he hears in AA is true. At times the stories may seem absurd but there is no need for people to lie to the alcoholic. The man had nothing to gain from the snake. The people of Alcoholics Anonymous have nothing tangible to gain from the new man.
The rattlesnake continues to be poisonous venom free if the alcoholic makes a decision to do what the people in AA said they had done. As it turns out, what they have done is relatively simple although occasionally time consuming. But the man thinks of the snake and the hours and hours and days and days he spent nursing it. A few hours of divine inconvenience to be protected from the poisonous venom does not seem like a big sacrifice.
And perhaps the largest tool for the spiritual tool kit provided the alcoholic is the ability to forgive. Having been bitten by the snake, the poisonous venom running through his veins, on what appears to be his last breath, the man looks at the snake, “there is no need to forgive you for being a snake but I must forgive myself for my selfish, self centered and grandiose belief that I could master you”.
It’s not alcohol that is the problem for the alcoholic. The problem for the alcoholic is that he thinks he can continue to drink it without consequences in spite of the evidence.
Neighbors found the man on the verge of death and rushed him for emergency care. He was nursed back to health and spends his days walking the country roads, singing a song and keeping the roads clear of rattlesnakes. He talks to his neighbors and his neighbors’ children. He tells them his story and teaches them to respect the rattlesnake and never forget it’s deadly potential.
Believe, agree, search, forgive and teach through your story may be a simple design for living but it is a design that works.
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