May 25, 2012

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Leaping lizards, how did we get to this point in life?

Debra TomaselliI was glad my car was parked in the shade. The sun was hot so it felt refreshing to slip into my vehicle situated beneath a cluster of leafy shade trees. As I drove away, the lush landscape disappeared in my rearview mirror.

Moments later, I stopped at a red light. As I reached for the radio dial, I suddenly found myself face to face with a gaunt lizard clinging to my windshield wiper. Shrieking, I lurched backward. Then, realizing the glass separated us, I relaxed.

Suddenly, the little chameleon was rather interesting.

I wondered why I hadn’t noticed him sooner. We were about to turn onto a congested highway, surrounded by multiple lanes of concrete and a sea of automobiles. Not the environment for a reptile. I prayed that the little guy would hang on.

As the light changed and the traffic moved at a quicker pace, the lizard, his long fingerlike feet clenched, clung to the wiper. His green skin was almost transparent, every muscle translucent. Motionless, he stared ahead. We sped along, but he never flinched.

Abruptly, the traffic slowed to a crawl.

“Don’t jump now,” I thought, hoping he wouldn’t fall victim to the road. He rolled his big round eyes, but didn’t budge.

The smell of exhaust surrounded us. I feared for the safety of my newfound friend, and wondered how I could save him from an ugly fate.

I considered turning my wipers on and flicking him to safety but, indeed, that would have only flung him into lanes of traffic. Not a good idea.

I thought about returning to the grassy parking lot, but that required intense maneuvering in this traffic.

“Hang in there,” I mumbled. He turned his head in robotic movements but, otherwise, remained stationary.

We crept to the next intersection where I exited the crowded highway. Traffic thinned. A canopy of oak trees lined the street and flourishing greenways wrapped around the little businesses. For the first time, the lizard inched forward.

“If you stay with me,” I said aloud, “I’ll drive you back to your parking lot!”

But before I could change direction, traffic stopped. This time, the lizard leapt and disappeared. As traffic resumed, I searched for him, but he was gone.

I told the story to my friend, Theresa.

“Life is like that,” she said. “Sometimes our circumstances are scary and unfamiliar, and we don’t know where we are going. We don’t make a move. Other times, we edge forward and survey the situation. Sometimes it’s time to make the leap.”

We pondered how something as insignificant as a little lizard was capable of evaluating the bigger picture. What made him hang on? What made him know when it was OK to jump?

I was amazed.

We face challenging times and exciting times, quiet times and hectic times, times to lose and times to succeed.

Imagine. If God can give this little creature such direction, think how much more he gives to you and me.

(Debra Tomaselli lives in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Her column appears in several diocesan newspapers. Her e-mail address is

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