Lessons from Lizards

Dear Sor Juana,

Sitting on a rock by the back door of where I live this week were two lizards – a parent and a child. Taking in the rays of the sun, warming up to stock up on food and mingling with more species than the protection the dark and cold offered them for the past few months. They had grown since I saw them last and retreated silently and with haste (for a blue tongue lizard) as soon as I was detected. What do we retreat from even when we are enjoying basking? A potential of threat, however unlikely, can have us scuttling away from what our heart desires or body needs.   Sometimes these lizards call the bluff of potential predator by opening wide their mouth and showoff their tongue with their best impression of being bigger and stronger than what might be attacking them.

The fight or flight response deeply embedded in the DNA of all creatures finds its genome path from the reptiles to us humans in still recognizable ways. Yet with gentle and careful movements these prehistoric creatures can be handled, although there are clearly uncomfortable with leaving solid ground under foot.

Coming into the light, forecasts the next invitation: to recoil into darkness. The nooks and crannies in the rocks at my back door, are a glimpse of the tiniest distance between those two offerings: the distance of a lizard’s breath. Or perhaps as the Celts would have it – thin places – where distance between heaven and Earth collapses. The lizards know this thin place, where in a singular world their bodies unite in the moment of blissful basking. In a moment perhaps easily broken silently by a shadow or unveiled by a raider coming to steal or threaten to break that moment. The lizards are in  conversation with the rock and commune as they meld together.

The giant lizards of pre-history, those dinosaurs pursing us into the dark places of our imagination, maybe no more than the blue tongue lizard quietly basking in the sun offering us a thin place to reflect on being between heaven and earth. There is light and dark in all our lives bringing us shade and cover, exposures us to the elements and everything in between. The invitations to stay in the sun or find the crack in the rocks to slither away, are every present, often in equal measure, pulling, pushing.

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