This morning I spied a blue-bellied lizard tucked among the dried wild oats and thistles beside the lane. I stood very still until it felt safe enough to skitter away. While the lizard tried to hide from me I could easily have scooped it up as I sometimes did as a child.
The foothills and dry creek beds where I grew up were rife with these small, harmless reptiles. My friends and I enjoyed catching one by the tail and watching in delight as the lizard detached from its tail and escaped. We added the tails to our mud pies and other inedible concoctions without ever once wondering if the detachment process might have hurt the little creature. We had been told that the tails grew back and imagined that it was similar to getting a haircut, I suppose, if we thought about it at all.
Today I am more sensitized to all God’s creation and I began to wonder exactly what it costs for the common Western Fence Lizard to leave behind a part of itself in order to escape a predator and stay alive.
Surely God planned this device to be used as a life saver in desperate situations. Until the moment of detachment the tail is part of the lizard’s body. Even the lowly lizard must feel the wrench of a painful loss.
I have lived through situations that made it necessary for me to detach from parts of my life that seemed irreplaceable. The wrench has sometimes been severe, but God’s design is such that where something is lost it makes room for something new to grow.
As with the lizard, the regrowth takes time, and while my life is not the same as before, it does go on.