Sunday, February 10, 2019

kissing the toad

There was a period in the early 1970s when I was momentarily seduced by popular music.

One of the LPs that frequently found a home on my JBL turntable was Stephen Scwartz's Godspell -- a re-telling of Matthew's gospel as a hippie confab. The music was not very good. Maybe "catchy" would be an appropriate description.

But there was one song ("By My Side") I always found a bit haunting. It describes that mystical longing we all experience at one time or another when, like Sartre, we ask ourselves where we are going.

And Schwartz, as he does now and then, poetically reduces that primal urge to a single couplet that is little more than a musical bridge -- and all the more profound because of it: "I'll put a pebble in my shoe/ And watch me walk."

That rather profound theological point shoved its way back into my life this morning while I was getting ready for church. I had put on all of my clothes except for my shoes. As I am wont to do on Sunday morning, the clock was beginning to win its race with my preparations.

So, in a hurry, on went my shoes. Left shoe on. Tied. Right shoe on. Wait a minute!

I know better than to slip on my shoes in the tropics without first shaking or squeezing them. I had done neither. To my cost.

Twice it has been scorpions. This time, it felt as if someone had pulled a practical joke by placing a raw egg in my shoe.

You know those scenes where Indiana Jones is trapped in a secret room of some ancient temple and the ceiling starts edging down on him? He escapes just before he is reduced to a blini.

Well, that is rather what happened to the occupant inside my shoe. Except it didn't escape; it was blinied. Or, more like, an exploded water balloon.

When I pulled my foot out and shook the shoe (a bit late for that, I might add), out fell the corpse of a baby cane toad.

Other than the fact it was a bit gross in its insides-out condition, I was not really surprised to see it. Like most places they have invaded, cane toads are almost a biblical curse here. They get into everything.

Having said that, they fascinate me. They really are survivors. And one way they survive is being toxic to other animals that see them as a tasty treat. Many a dog has died after encountering a cane toad. Their toxicity, though, does not help them much from ending up as flattened road-kill.

Knowing that, I washed off my sock and rinsed the inside of my shoe -- just in case. Even after all of that, I still made it to church on time.

I may not have put a pebble in my shoe, but I did walk.

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