Life Lessons From A Lizard

For the past 10 years we’ve had an Australian water dragon as a pet. He passed away this week, and the resulting sadness has left me with some reflective thoughts about various spiritual topics that I decided to capture here.

  • It’s amazing the personality even a small creature can have. The grief we have of the loss of his individuality must be similar to what God feels when, as Jesus says, God knows every sparrow that falls to the ground. He’s simultaneously feeling the joy and excitement of each of the living creatures in his garden, and the loss when it goes, and that’s part of the beauty of his creation that he’s decided is good. Not that the loss is good, but he’s decided the loss is worth the joy.
  • The main thing our pet meant to us most of the time was a sort of comfortable companionship. He would sit out with us, happy to enjoy our company as we enjoyed his. Neither us nor him wanting or needing extra attention from the other, just contentment with being present with the other. I think there are times when God enjoys the same from us – when we’re comfortable and happy just to be aware of his presence.
  • One of the most exciting and happiest days of all of our time with him was a few years ago. We had always paid attention to his behaviors, and would happily give him some of his favorite treats whenever he seemed to be in the mood, and we’d gotten him comfortable with eating those treats out of our hands. He’d developed a particular behavior involving opening his mouth in a certain way, which we’ve never found mentioned on any reptile forums or anywhere else. This one day, as he was out and I passed him, he opened his mouth in this way and I gave him a treat – and he suddenly realized that, yes, we were watching him and could understand his signals. From that very moment on he was constantly signaling us, about all sorts of things – he would run up to us and ask for a treat, he would ask to be let out of his cage, he would just signal that he was happy, or thankful. Nothing had changed regarding our behavior toward him, but he now understood that we did pay attention to him and could “hear” him. In many ways, I think this is what prayer is like, with us towards God. He’s always there and is paying attention to us, but we don’t often understand that until we see God answer our prayers in the most obvious ways.