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Peaceful Coexistence

June 29, 2018
by Helen Hartai   —   Audio controls are below the devotional to listen to this devotional or to hymn music while you read

Romans 12:16-18 – Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. (NRSV)

One hot, humid day in Florida, as I returned from a long walk tired and thirsty, I swung open the front patio gate and discovered that I had a "guard snake" protecting the entrance to my front door. Being a fairly new winter resident, I wasn't well acquainted with the various species of snake dwelling in and around our region. I suspected that it was probably harmless, but I wanted it to find another door to guard.

To encourage its departure or scare it away, I began to hiss and lunge at it. It immediately coiled its two-to-three-foot body, raised its head, and hissed back at me in return.

Next, I reached for some garden mulch to throw at it. It slithered forward in attack mode. I searched for something bigger and heavier with which to scare it and make it go away.

I tossed sticks, stones, and even a brick at it. Each time I "raised the stakes", it escalated its response to the threat.

Finally, I tried walking away, but kept the gate open wide so that I could see where it went. It remained in place. Stalemate!

I remembered that the screen door to the lanai at the back of our condo wasn't locked, so I was able to sit in the shade, even if I couldn't enter my home.

As I sat there cooling off, literally and figuratively, I thought of Paul's words of instruction and challenge in today's passage, to "live in harmony with one another" and "so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."

That led me to think on how often careless words and hostile threats disrupt the harmony in our relationships with one another. How often, instead of retreating to "let the dust settle", we insist on our own way. How often we respond to a perceived threat or insult with aggression that only serves to heighten tensions.

As I looked at the situation from the snake's point of view, I saw that I had left it no room to manoeuvre, no place to hide.

With new insight, I returned to the front of the condo and discovered the path to my front door free and clear of any obstacle. All that the snake wanted was to enjoy a little warmth and sunshine and to be left in peace. All that I had to do was to give it room to breathe and a safe retreat from danger.

Point to ponder: What might I do, as far as it depends on me, to live peaceably with all my neighbours and with those whose points of view may differ from mine?

Prayer: Loving God, help us to be slow to anger and aggression and quick to dismantle barriers of fear and suspicion, that we may live in harmony with one another. In Christ's name, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

Helen Hartai <helenhartai@gmail.com>
Nestleton, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for sharing, Helen.

    Well done, Helen. Please write again.

    Good morning Helen,
    Thank you so much.

    Thank you, Helen, for sharing this devotional with us. Blessings.

    Thanks for the very good devotional. I am so happy they are once again coming to me. Thanks!

    Thank you for the devotion. When I read about snake, I just googled your place on the map.

    Peaceful existence? Yes with people. Yes, God wants us to live in peace with people. But with snakes?
    How could you Helen Hartai?
    Try the Bibe for snakes.

    Hi Helen,
    Good words indeed, there are so many times when we act or speak and we should just as you say, “Let the dust settle”.
    Thank you for writing.

    A great analogy Helen…and in need of special importance and attention in today’s International, National and local “climates” in everything.
    Keep up your writing.
    Take care and May your Canada Day be a Peaceful one.

    Thanks for a thought provoking word today Helen. I guess if it had been me, l would have been heading back to Canada pronto. If it’s one thing l hate, it’s the very thought of a snake, not to mention encountering them.

    I hope since that you have learned which snakes are dangerous.
    I am afraid that is when I learn to fly. I do not like snakes at all.
    We never encountered any the times we went to Florida. We stayed at a trailer park with our friends she was cleaning up flower beds one day and came across a copper snake. I do not know what the dangerous one looks like.

    Greetings Helen,
    Many thanks for your devotional this morning and the timeliness of it. Your title of it and the opening scripture are right on for what’s happening in our country at the present time. Prayers for peaceful coexistence with our neighbouring country are really necessary these days.
    Blessings to you,

    Great story. We drive to Manitoulin Island every year. As I was cleaning our little cabin, I noticed a curled up snake in the bottom of the cupboard. We had been sleeping for a week with this snake in the cabin. I called the owner to help get the snake out. He tried to maneuver it out with a stick, but that didn’t work. He eventually got the snake out into the forest that surrounded the cabin. I was thankful to see it slither away, unharmed; no wonder there were no mice around! Enjoy writing.


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