KUHF-Houston Public Radio's "This I Believe" with Bliss Foster
by: Paul Pendergraft, July 10, 2009 10:07:00 am
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Bliss is a freelance writer and volunteer for several animal welfare organizations. She and her husband and their menagerie of animals live on a farm in Fort Bend County. Bliss's life and work are influenced by her daily contact with nature. She believes it is this connection that has shown her some of life's most precious gifts and made her a better person. And it's the focus of her essay for KUHF's This I Believe.
"I believe in the wonder of nature all around us. It has softened my heart and led me along a more compassionate path. It has taught me to think before I act, by showing me beauty and helping me deal with my fears in a more merciful way.
Every winter on my farm, I am able to witness the geese migrate by the thousands. It is usually cold and early in the morning, while I am walking with my dogs or working around the barn. When I hear their distant calls and see their beautiful V-formation, I long for their unwavering grace and freedom. And any doubts I ever had about God have been put to rest.
On my farm, I have also seen a side of nature that is not traditionally thought of as lovely. Several summers ago, in the early evening, I opened the front door and saw a small brown snake on the walkway. A chill shot through me. I shuddered and let out a quick yell, as I went back inside to get my husband. "Go get the shovel," I said. "You have to get rid of a snake."
He went out the side door to get the shovel and came around to the front. The snake was still slithering along, as I watched from inside. As my husband raised the shovel, the little snake did something very odd. It lifted its head slightly and looked at him. It didn't appear to have any intention whatsoever of striking, but it almost seemed pensive and taken aback. Its life came to an abrupt and violent end.
It's hard to express the degree of guilt I felt afterwards for having given the kill-order, and my husband felt the same way for having killed it, although it wasn't the first time we'd killed a harmless snake on our property. On several occasions, we discussed the snake's unusual reaction to its impending death and my excessive fear of reptiles. We also made the observations that the snake hadn't been poisonous or threatening in any way. It was simply a small creature passing through. I kept thinking—if the snake had been one of the beloved migratory geese, would I have reacted the same way? Of course not! I would've been filled with awe and reverence. I would've left nature alone.
Oddly enough, this past summer I was confronted with a similar situation. As I stepped out the door one night, a small dark snake was moving across the flagstone. But this time, I didn't tell my husband and I didn't get a chill. I stopped. And I watched as it crawled into the grass. I continue to be inspired by the wonder of nature all around us.
This I believe."