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THE SEARCH FOR ARMADILLO
March 9, 2004
 
"What I'd really like to see is an armadillo," I say.
I've wanted to see one all my life."

My Texan host scratches his head. "Well, I never fail to
see one in the path down to the river. Early evening and
early morning. They're active then."

"You've got a ton of their holes right outside your door
under that tree," says another Texan. "Look under there.
Or scan the horizon for something that looks like an
anthill, only it's moving."

"Are they fast?"

"No, they move real slow. You could catch one."

I scan the horizon for strolling anthills. All I see are
real anthills.

"You don't want to touch those," someone else says. "Those
are fire ants. They swarm all over you and then their leader
emits a special pheronome and they all bite you together.
Take weeks to heal."

"Yeah," says his wife, "and ther bites don't itch. They hurt."

Good Lord. I'm going back to New York where it's safe.

"Pick him up by his tail," says the first Texan, "and he begins
to gyrate. That's his defense. You can just about hold onto
him. And dont let him get his nose back in the ground. He
gets his nose back in the ground and you'll never get him out."

"I've cooked'em in the shell and I've taken'em out to cook'em.
Either way is all right. They're the hardest animal to dress
I've ever encountered, though. I will say that."

"What do they taste like?"

"Armadillo."

I just want to see one. I want to see their shells, watch
them walk, see their faces.

"They smell, too," a passerby remarks.

The world is so various. Here there are armadillos and
rattlesnakes, corn snakes, king snakes. Green jays. Here
mountian laruel is blooming now, utterly different from
what we call mountain laurel at home. Here the Judas tree
is in bloom, and many other flowers. Here tulips are up and
finished in a day or two; it's too hot for them to stay for
long. Here there are cactus.

But there are also geraniums. Geraniums like I have and some
unlike any I've seen -- there are hundreds of varieties of
geranium throughout the world. The people are diferent,
too, but they are also the same. The Church: different. And
the same. We talk about this sameness and difference. About
change. About reconciliation.

The armadillo hasn't changed since ancient times. It's an
ancient animal. It hasn't needed to change; it was already
in possession of everything it needed for the long haul. And
we arrived with what we were going to need, too: the capacity
to adjust to new realities as they arose in history. The
Church, the same: it is not static. It has the power to change,
and it does change. One day, some of the things we do now will
seem quaint. And some of them will seem offensive.

I'd like to see an armadillo, but I wouldn't like to be one.
I want to live in history while I am here, to mark it and move
with it. I want to react to it. Perhaps I can even change a
piece of it. I don't want to be exactly as I was in the
beginning, to be afraid to change. I want to submit my
changeable nature to the unchangeable love of God. And I want to
see what happens.
Copyright © 2018 Barbara Crafton
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