Meditation: The Serpent and The Dove
I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But, beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 10: 16 &17.
The little dove’s nest is snuggled securely in the corner of the porch posts. Eggs were laid and hatched, babies were well cared for and little doves learned to fly. At the same time the grass snake stealthily traveled in and out of the budding lavender, fragrant sage and dense woody thyme. All the visitors who spent a leisurely afternoon on the porch were pleased to see the now empty nest and hear the story of how the babies took their first flights. Only a few were as eager to hear how the serpent sometimes climbs up the side of the porch and around the benches. It was late in the summer when the snake shed her skin and neatly draped it over the now empty nest of the dove. The afternoon rain blessed them both, the wisdom of the snake and the innocence of the dove.
Like the disciples Jesus sent out, we are empowered to bring peace and healing to people weighted down by laws and rules and religious dogma. The serpent and the dove represent all that we need. The snake in Genesis before “the fall” was the wisest of all the creatures. Throughout history and in every culture snakes are used to convey spiritual attributes. They are associated with wisdom, eternity, healing, mystery, magical (unknown) power and feared by many as a form of holiness.
The serpent is prominent in today’s symbol for medicine. Their healing powers have been used to treat illnesses and even are utilized in some modern drugs. In Babylon the serpents was worshiped. In Indian tradition we often see the serpent as a sign of immortality in the act of swallowing itself which creates a circle. The continual shedding of its skin represent regeneration and renewal. Mankind has always been fascinated by the serpent.
The dove is widely associated with peace, safety, sustainability and blessing. It was the dove which provided Noah with a sign that it was safe to leave the ark. The spirit of God “like a dove” descended upon Jesus at his baptism. The dove is gentle and soft. The sounds the dove makes are soothing and bring a sense of comfort. It represents purity, vulnerability, simplicity and innocence. It is unusual in its sleek beauty.
Some Bible commentators interpret this verse as being a contrast between good and evil but it seems more likely that Jesus was using nature as he often did to explain principles and attributes. Jesus would not be telling the disciples of his day nor us, his modern day disciples, to emulate Satan or evil or to study and learn from it . He is instead teaching us to embrace all the characteristics demonstrated in his creation as we are brought before governors, kings, church counsels and synagogues. Just as he explained that we can consider the lilies of the fields and be assured we already have what we need, we are to learn from the serpent and the dove.
Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. Be complete in wisdom and innocence. Walk in the balance demonstrated in nature between reason and faith. Hide in the tall grasses at times, sun your self on the warm stone, be renewed and leave behind that which is dead. Like the dove take flight when needed for safety or for a clearer view. Sing your soothing songs of peace and innocence, teach your young ones to fly. You have all that you need to follow Jesus and proclaim his compassion for the world. Those who use fear to retain power and load people down with laws will never embrace the message of love and grace. Because of that, many have been delivered up before Governors, Kings, and Counsels. The serpent and the dove strengthen and encourage us to use our earthy knowledge and spiritual wisdom.
Prayer: Thank your for the timeless lessons of the serpent and the dove and all of earth’s creatures. Give us the courage to be wise as a serpent and the to be as gentle as a dove. Thank you for the promise that we already have all that we need when we stand before Governors, Politicians, and religious leaders as we proclaim you message to love our enemies as well as our friends.
Action: Meditate on the attributes of the serpent and the dove: wisdom, eternity, healing, mystery, power, holiness, renewal, regeneration, peace, safety, innocence, vulnerability, simplicity and purity. .. Decide today to speak up when you hear someone who professes to be a follower of Jesus advocate violence and war. Do not to be afraid of standing before Governors and religious leaders.