A Snake in the Convent and Other Adventures in Community Life

Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP
Blog by Sr. June Fitzgerald, OP

This morning I was eating my breakfast at our kitchen table when Sister Ireen came into the room and asked me, “What do we do with snakes in the motherhouse?”

She stood at the end of the table with a plastic bag balled up in her hand – holding it a bit away from her body. I looked at the bag and asked the obvious, “Is there a snake in that bag?” She answered immediately, “Oh yes, I caught it and brought it up to you. I figured you’d know what to do with it.”

Now, at this point, I wasn’t sure if this was a compliment or not. Was it good or not that she instantly thought of me? Ireen continued, “I wondered who I could ask, and I right away thought of you. So here I am.”

I burst out laughing at the craziness of this sight. Sr. Ireen holding her bathing suit in one hand, she had just finished her morning swim, and the bagged snake in the other. As we laughed about this we decided that as women of peace, God would want us to bring the little guy outside and release him into the wilds.

As we processed out the back door of the convent we felt as if we were going on a big adventure. Perhaps, at this point, we should have sung a marching song of some sort but we couldn’t think of one appropriate to the moment. In retrospect, perhaps the Prayer of St. Francis would have been appropriate procession music.

Ireen and I released the snake in the parking lot. As she released it from the bag we jumped back to see what it would do. At the sight of this ferocious beast I began to laugh hysterically. The snake was little bigger than an extra-large earthworm and at 8″ long did not pose any threat to these sturdy human beings jumping about on the pavement. How funny we are when confronted with something foreign that we’ve been taught is a threat to us.

We proceeded to watch the snake, took it’s picture and a video or two to commemorate this heroic feat – we would live to see another day and we wanted proof of this momentous event.

Reflecting on this experience, my heart is warmed by the thought that Sr. Ireen thought of me to share this great adventure with. One of the joys of community is sharing these impromptu events, laughing about them, and then following God’s lead in our actions. For me, community is a treasure, a challenge, and a pillar of my life. It is one of the reasons I chose religious life rather than the life of a single woman committed to service in the church. In community I can be, accomplish and reach further than I could ever do alone.

I wonder what other adventures await me today?

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6 responses to “A Snake in the Convent and Other Adventures in Community Life

  1. Sr. June, I’m saddened that you didn’t include a picture of this “beast”… as someone who fears snakes, to perhaps an irrational level, I have made a deal with the creatures… stay away from me and I’ll stay away from you. When that doesn’t happen, shrieking ensues… even if they are a monstrous 8 inches long… That was a lovely read, thanks for the giggle.

  2. Thank you for sharing. I can picture the entire story. But, I was thinking: “hm, why relating it in a parking lot?! St. Francis would have released it into the nature around the motherhouse. But then I got it: Dominic was a risk taker, so I got your point :-)”
    Community is indeed a great pillar. I call it one of my extraordinary fuel for everyday life. When I was in the novitiate, I spent a week at one of our motherhouses in New Orleans. I heard stories from our sisters’ novitiate year from long ago, when they were not able to leave Rosaryville (Louisiana) during novitiate time. I wondered, “so, what did you do when you had free time?” I asked Sr. Denise. She said: “We threw snakes at one another.” 🙂

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