I mowed the lawn today and I ran the mower over a garter snake. I didn’t realize it until I saw a big chunk of it coiled in the driveway. I thought it was the whole snake, until I got close and saw the truth. Until I saw bits of snake in the grass. For some reason, I wanted to find the head. I stopped the mower, and like a macabre Easter egg hunt, searched the grass for it. But I never found it.
I’m not sure why this bothered me so much. Why I felt this overwhelming need to apologize. To ask forgiveness. I wasn’t sure to who, or what exactly. But that didn’t make the urge any less.
Of course the act was unintentional. Of course I couldn’t be held responsible. In fact, I never would have known if a large piece of the snake hadn’t landed in the driveway. I would have finished and simply admired the uniform beauty of even an imperfect mutt of a lawn like mine.
I know “circle of life” and all that. Spinning in circles can sometimes make you sick to your stomach.
Like the time I ran over the rabbit hole with the mower, the sickening thwack, thwack that stopped the motor. I had no idea what had happened until I looked underneath, astonished, heartsick, the bloody pulps unrecognizable, and the single baby rabbit left, peering up out of the fur lined nest. Stone still. Practicing being invisible.
I've never been in a tornado. I’ve been following the news out of Oklahoma. Is a tornado like a lawn mower passing overhead?
An ELCA news release about the tragedy mentioned that two ELCA congregations were in the path of the storm. They were not damaged. The reporter who wrote the story quoted the rostered lay leader of the congregations, who proudly said that the “hand of God had protected the buildings.”
I thought about that surviving baby rabbit peering out of the nest. And I remembered how inadequate everything felt after that. How I removed the dead rabbits, careful not to disturb the nest any further, and continued mowing because there was so much more left to do, and very little that I could say about it.