Snakes In Church by J. MARK MULVANEY

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I can’t stand the sight of a snake.  I am not afraid of them. I just think they are the devil and the fluid  movement of their bodies make them all the more vile.

I asked my Mother once why people jump back when they see a snake and why are most people are afraid of them?  She told me that it is inherent in most people to do this because they represent the devil.  A form of Satan who in Genesis, GOD commanded they crawl on their bellies and eat dirt for eternity.

The Church where I was raised and still attend is on the radio, live, every Sunday night.  Often times when we were in between a retiring pastor and looking for a new pastor we would have a guest speaker or preacher.  I think this is pretty much the norm for Southern Baptist Churchesand no doubt in other churches too.

I can remember the slight, older man, who would be speaking the night of my screams that would be heard in a three state area.  Our church was hosting this man for a revival, and it started on a Sunday night.  He was well into his sermon and we were well into our radio program when the older woman and her young grandson, maybe a very young son for a woman who looked to be about 75 years old and who sat directly in front of my Mother and sister and me.

Interested in what this man was saying and listening quietly with my Mother sitting just to my right and my sister to her right, we were about mid way down the main section of the Church when out of no where but pure surprise, this young man who was in the pew directly in front of me stood up and started screaming.  He stood straight up, screamed and went stiff and fell into the aisle.  

Of course, this could mean only one thing.  He saw a snake just under his feet!  Of course it had to be this because why else would anyone scream out in church in the middle of a sermon and while on a live radio broadcast?  It was like screaming “Fire” in a movie theater.   Snake was all I could scream as I watched the young man convulsing in the aisle just one seat in front of me.  There could not have been anything else that produced that much commotion and ferver than a snake.

I couldn’t have imagined how it had gotten into the very large brick church and up the aisle without anyone noticing it until the guest did just one row in front of me.  All I could think of to do was to scream out  SNAKE!!!  I kicked off my shoes and made one jump and up onto the seat where my Mother and sister now sat looking at me.  

I kept screaming snake as I jumped from pew to pew, progressively moving towards the front door which is actually in the back of the church.  I jumped friends and family and guests as if they weren’t there, leaving everyone behind me.  I didn’t understand why everyone wasn’t following me, especially my Mother who hates snakes as much as I because no one could hate them more. 

 When I see a snake, the muscles in my legs cramp up and I am usually rendered unable to move from my waist down.  This had not hit me yet and if there was a snake in the sanctuary, I was going to be taking full advantage of it because I had to clear out of there, I had to get to a place free of snakes.

I looked back and saw this young man still in the aisle convulsing when I realized he was having a seizure and there wasn’t an actual snake.  I couldn’t think of anything that could make him act the way he was except that he had seen a snake.  I knew that if he was acting that way, I was going to be acting much worse at the sight of a snake.  

When the ambulance arrived and took this young epileptic away, I realized I probably acted a bit insane and that I had a lot of apologizing to do but I was however scared out of my shoes.  I can remember the look on the preachers face, it was white, sweating and at a loss for words when I finally took my seat after the ambulance left.  My Mother looked at me, as did everyone else that night the snake had attacked the young man sitting in front of me I often wonder what happened to him and what would have happened if it had been a real snake. 

I really am only scared of just that one thing.

J. Mark Mulvaney, now of Cattletsburg, studied at Morehead State University, the Univeristy of Kentucky and Harvard University.

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