Blessed be the reptiles. They just wanted to be left alone. They would try to hide or take cover in the grass and weeds. They would sit very still and not make any noise. But I was a boy. I couldn’t simply see one and let it pass. I had to catch it and pick it up and study it.
St. Teresa of Avila used to write about the “pesky reptiles” of the spiritual life. She said that they were little vermin that would stealthily slink into the crawl spaces of our spirits – all of those little things that distract, unsettle, vex, infest, endanger, and even poison us.
Of course, these little “pesky reptiles” just want to be left alone too. They don’t want you even to notice them. Or, sometimes we’re aware of them, but we’re just too creeped out or afraid to deal with them. But they won’t go away by themselves. They may make us squirm but you can be sure that there are some “pesky reptiles” in everybody’s life and spirit that need to be studied.
It should alarm us to know that, in most cases, everybody else can see the wretched reptiles in our lives. They wonder, “Why isn’t he doing something about that?” They might even call them to our attention and recommend some remedies. But we just shrug them off. So the reptiles keep molting and growing new scales.
Summer affords us extra leisure for reptile study. Spend some time in sincerity before God and examine closely, not only the bad habits or character flaws in your life, but also those inner dispositions that are leaving us spiritually weak or compromising our spiritual integrity. What is it that is keeping us from being the holy men and women, in honorable and moral homes and fruitful parishes, that God calls us to be?
It has been forty years since I attended Camp Rokilio. Reptiles haven’t changed in that time. It’s safe to say that reptiles haven’t changed much in the past thousands or even millions of years – their bellies are still dragging in the dirt.
We’re under an ancient curse but we are promised new life. We believe that Christ in the Eucharist is truly the Way, the Truth, and the Life that He promised to be. Together, at Nativity of Mary, may we soak up God’s best summer blessings – and be happy, holy campers.