Monitor Lizard

“‘These are they which are unclean to you among the creeping things that creep on the earth: the weasel, the rat, any kind of great lizard, the gecko, and the monitor lizard, the wall lizard, the skink, and the chameleon. (Leviticus 11:29 30 WEB)

“Boys will be boys,” that’s what my mother would say when I was growing up. As the baby in a family of three sons I was at a distinct disadvantage. While my brothers were interested in sports, rock and sock’em, I was into music, poetry and reading.

One thing we held in common was a love for the outdoors. This is something my wife reminds me of now that I spend so much time indoors with this computer. As boys we enjoyed playing with various curious creatures we found. Sometimes the bugs, worms, snakes and rodents we captured were happy to spend time with three curious boys. Other times, well, we won’t talk about those times.

Small creatures are very common in the tropics. Large creatures are also common. When we left Guam there were twice as many snakes on the island as people. This isn’t a good ratio to put in the tourist brochures. Along with the ubiquitous snakes Guam also sported, wild dog packs, Carabao herds and the Komodo dragon or Monitor lizard.

I read about these three to five foot creatures with toxic breathe and saw one in the Guam zoo. Zoo might not be a good word. Ten animals in someone’s backyard with a ticket booth in the driveway don’t quite match the wonders of the Saint Louis Zoo. The Monitor lizard is a leathery creature that eats small mammals, and generally steers clear of people. With the large wild dog population on the island I was sure they were well fed.

One day we strolled along Tanguisson Beach and wandered into the boonies, island slang for jungle. The massive growth of a tropical jungle is fascinating. Beth was wandering ahead when I heard her call out. I jogged ahead and found her pointing at a log across the trail.

“I think we can just step over the log dear, you’re not that short,” I commented and continued along the trail.

“Not the log, what’s on the log!” she shouted and  pointed again at the moss covered decaying trunk.

“COOL!” I exclaimed after I recognized the five foot Monitor Lizard relaxing in the shade.

Beth quickly turned to exit the boonies while I stepped forward for a better look. The lumbering lizard caught a glimpse of my movement and high tailed it off the log into the dense undergrowth. I gave pursuit but to no avail. The creature crawled faster than I could navigate the dense foliage.

Armed with the most toxic mouth in the animal kingdom the Komodo Dragon recognized I was too large for even his appetite. That was the first, last and only time I saw the lounging lizard in the wild. He was smart. Although I meant no harm he knew when to turn tail and run.

Timothy writes about our flight from evil. He reminds us, “But you, man of God, flee these things, and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:11 WEB)

Sometimes we think we can stand even when the scriptures remind us to be careful lest we fall. We might learn from small creatures. There is a time to stand, and a time to flee.

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