I was sitting at my desk typing when I had the strangest feeling that someone was watching me. I couldn’t shake it, so I got up and opened the door. No, no one was outside. Then, as I walked back to my chair I saw him: Lenny. Lenny is a seventeen inch long, southern alligator lizard. He was sitting on my file cabinet watching me. At first it was a little unnerving. It’s not something you see every day. Well, that’s not exactly true. Lenny has now stayed in my office for the past fourteen days alternating from the cadenza to the filing cabinet and once he spent the day in my bookcase nestled among some sailing books. I often find him beside my ship models. I think he dreams of sailing away.
The whole staff has met Lenny (with varying reactions, Jane…) and I’ve grown attached to him. He doesn’t bark like a dog or shed like a cat. In fact, for most of the time he doesn’t do anything but sit there and stare at me.
That’s not to say he isn’t a good conversationalist. Someone once pointed out how the best conversationalists are first good listeners and Lenny excels at listening. He has been the first to hear many of my sermons and I love the fact that he doesn’t criticize what I have to say or offer “suggestions.” He takes James’ admonition seriously, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” (James 1:19). Likewise I have observed that Lenny supremely illustrates 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober-minded; be watchful.”
I’ve learned a lot from this lizard. I especially like that, with Lenny, what you see is what you get. Some other frogs, birds and lizards might puff themselves up to make themselves appear larger than life. Not Lenny — he doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what God created. In spite of the fact that he is the largest alligator lizard I have ever seen, Lenny is a humble reptile and goes out of the way to avoid drawing attention to himself. He’s not flashy – he’s brown.
He is also highly disciplined. Jan was worried that Lenny might not have enough to eat so last Saturday she insisted we go to the pet store to buy him some live meal worms. I don’t know what Lenny sees in them but he was certainly hungry. He chomped down six worms in a single setting but after he was full, he refused to over-indulge. I haven’t been able to tempt him with a nice, fat, juicy worm in the past couple of days. I could learn an important lesson about over-eating and self-discipline from him!
Lenny grew up here at Canyon View. You’ve probably seen his cousins running through the courtyard or climbing the outside walls. Lenny performs an important, if under-appreciated, function for us. He has been catching spiders and cockroaches his entire. Lenny does his part to protect us from poison spiders. (Alligator lizards are particularly fond of Black Widows.) It’s an important job but he isn’t looking for any special recognition for his contributions. Sure, a lot of people aren’t as fond of him as I am and many would be quite content if he left and never came back but it takes all types to make up a congregation and I’m glad to know him!