On a visit to Canada, my older brother and I were walking through my favourite park. On shaded tarmac, we doddled along. Suddenly my brother stopped and put an arm out to stop me. "Look," he whispered, as he gazed down. There in front of us was a thin, small snake, about 8 inches long. It's what I knew as a "gardener" snake, yellow line down it's back. We watched it curl itself one way, then the other as it made it's way, heading in the same direction as us. My shadow caught it, and the snake froze. My brother moved closer. The snake tightened into a coil. It was a tiny,, thin, maybe eight inches long, thing. We must have been towering giants. My brother leaned over, still watching a few feet from above. Suddenly the head sprang up from it's coil and the snake hissed with wide open mouth. I actually jumped. This tiny skinny snake had scared me for a moment. It held it's position, stretched and hissing.
My brother and I backed off. Not that we were scared, now. I don't think my brother had even been shocked. He's a cool, laid back soul. We didn't want the snake to feel threatened. With my shadow no longer over the snake, and my brother and me a couple more feet away, the snake eased itself down and swayed, coiling one way, then the other; one way, then the other; moving until it was lost to us in the grass.
The image of that tiny snake pulling itself up to its fully, few inch, height and baring it's mouth at us towering beings, remains vivid. This happened years ago.
A tiny being, not cowering against strong, huge beings, but straightening up and holding position. Ready to attack in a situation where it had no chance of fighting us off. (It's not a poisonous snake). What a strength. What a power.
Working with children who appear timid and definitely emotionally scarred, I have often experienced their mighty strength rear up at me. Sometimes they frighten me for that instant moment — like the tiny gardner snake — sometimes they inspire joy: their development and ability to overcoming pain, difficulties or hurts is inspiring.
This is one of the many reasons I love counselling children. This unexpected strength rears up frequently when the outterly timid feels safe to express their inner power.