It's not a new picture (2005 I believe), but it first came to my attention last week -- a Burmese python in the Florida Everglades tried to eat a six-foot alligator. The alligator apparently clawed its way out of the snake's belly. Both died.
Pythons are apparently gaining a foothold in the swampy Everglades after Romantic owners found the snakes too big or voracious to handle and dropped them off in the wild. So perhaps some of the Grade B snake horror films are not that crazy after all.
For some vaguely-perverted reason, the picture makes me think of those who create great spiritual-endeavor orders and are zealous about the customs and costumes that accrue over time. Buddhists 'defend the Dharma.' Christians 'defend the church.' Basically it boils down to, "I defend me."
But calling it all an ego-trip would be too simplistic by half. It takes ego to build the organization that will encourage and point things out for others. There is usefulness in reaching out to the human heart that longs for some kind of unity or peace. Many have been helped.
And many have found themselves in the belly of the beast -- clawing to get out, to get real, to breathe fresh air. The constrictions of what was defended and elevated are just too much and life -- a life of unity or peace -- is squeezed out of the organization that promises fresher, more delightful air.
The Bible python encourages, "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin...." Which of the alligators among us could resist such a sensible invitation ... and yet, if we hold it up as something defensible and good, which one of us would not likewise be smothered?
There is nothing so good that it cannot be tarnished; nothing so tarnished that it cannot be good. But this has nothing to do with 'defending' anything, 'preserving' anything.
Each has to get out of the belly of the beast. It's not a joke, even if that belly is warm as hot cocoa.