Thus was my first-ever encounter with the Eastern Rattlesnake.
The whole of creation, Paul says, is groaning (and, perhaps, rattling), as we ourselves are groaning within, for redemption. This world that we know has remnants of the beauty that was Eden. But our redemption is not to be removed altogether from the earth, but to become part of the New Heaven and New Earth for which God is preparing us, according to the view of N.T. Wright in his most recent book, "Surprised by Hope." (For an excellent synopsis that will whet your appetite for the book, listen to http://www.trinitychurchboston.org/ministries/forums/forum_20080420.mp3).
So, perhaps, in that hope that lies just beyond our sight, we shall walk on trails with snakes that have no cause to rattle, nor shall we fear to tread. We shall find cascades of living water that will refresh us for eternity. Until then we are groaning, but not as people who have no hope. Just as mortals who are thirsty from the hike and sore in our weak knees, and just a bit wary of what today may bring.