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A Box Full of Frogs
by Armando Heredia
5/11/2009 / Christian Living
The thunder rolled, booming all around me. There was lightning in the big West Texas sky which was painted a dark indigo blue by the rain that was about to fall in torrents.
My face and hands were covered in mud and my clothes were dirty enough to just throw away. I had spent the entire afternoon in the mud holes catching frogs. It had been raining the days previous and out where the mesquite grew wild there were places that held water, little ditches and ravines of caliche rock where the water would stay until the sun evaporated it in the coming hot summer days.
Somewhere along the way I found a milk carton, the cardboard half gallon kind that you pull the edges of one side apart at the top to open. The frog I had in my hand was pretty big and I didn't really want to let it go so I stuffed it into the carton. Then, after scrambling around I found another and another, stuffing them into the carton with the other frogs. I spent a few hours catching and stuffing frogs. The wind had picked up as the storm blew in. All around the sky was getting darker.
As a little boy I couldn't have told you why I did what I did next, though I understand it now. I had found a long sharp metal rod at the edge of the fence bordering the little yard of my step-dad's mother's house where I was staying. I took the carton of frogs and threw it to the ground. I watched it as it kind of bumped around, the frogs trying to escape the confines of that little box I had placed them in. And then, with lightning and thunder and wind blowing all around I stabbed that rod through the carton. I hadn't planned it, this wasn't why I had spent all afternoon catching the frogs. But I stabbed it again and again, running the rod through, watching with a kind of grossed out feeling the box banging around as the frogs desperately tried to escape.
Blood covered the rod and oozed out of the holes of the carton. It was splattered on my hands and the ground all around the carton. The movements of the carton began to diminish as the frogs died in the box. Some of them were skewered by this terrible rod that I had attacked them with, others drowned in the blood that filled the box. It was a horrible, malicious and seemingly inexplicable act of violence. I have often thought back to that day and am horrified by the capacity for evil that I had resident in me as a child.
I wouldn't have believed you if you had told me I was going to be doing that to those frogs before it all came to pass, but there I was with that bloody rod and a bloody box full of frogs.
The beginning of trouble for the frogs didn't happen when I found that rod, nor even when I put them in the box, it started when I went looking for frogs and I had no capacity to receive them and no authority to keep them.
I had the power to go and get them, the power to catch them, but I didn't have anywhere prepared for them. I should have never caught them, or at the very least I should have let them go, but that was the problem, I didn't want to let them go, because I had caught them. I was powerful because I was the hunter and they were my quarry, if I let them go it would be weakness on my part, even though I had no place to keep them. So, I stuffed them in a box. They couldn't live in that box for too long and I knew that when I stuffed the first one in, but it didn't matter because I didn't want it to matter.
I had the power to catch them but no authority to keep them. I knew that I couldn't bring those frogs into the house, that my step-parents weren't going to let me into the car with a handful of "nasty" frogs. They're gross, dirty, give you warts, pee on you, make a lot of noise and require special foods and the right kind of environment, all of which either require tolerance, sacrifice, or money. No, I knew I had no authority to keep those frogs so I stuffed them in a little box to hide them from the people who made the rules.
The problem was that the frogs weren't content to stay in the box, they weren't made to be in there. They made a lot of noise and the box wouldn't stay still. In reality I had no authority to even put them in the box, but they were my frogs, because I caught them.
I was too weak to let them go so I killed them.
While I was killing the frogs the storm had come upon me, the lightning and thunder, wind and rain. It was a very dramatic moment and for some reason a fear came on me. I mean a horror. I stood there with that bloody rod and the box of dead frogs at my feet, the blood spreading on the top of the rain water and I became afraid. I was afraid of what God would do to me because of the frogs. I didn't know God but I knew some things about Him and in reality it would have really been poetic justice if I had experienced the retribution I felt like I deserved. A kid holding a bloody metal rod in a lightning storm.
Friend, I promise I will never do this again, with frogs or anything else and I won't stand by and watch someone else do it either.
For original artwork for this piece please visit http://acreativeprocess.blogspot.com
2009. Armando Heredia
Armando serves as co-pastor of Tapestry in Granite City, IL and is an artist and author.
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