There I was in Lansing, Michigan sitting at breakfast with three ladies who were registered at the same convention as I. Conversation began slowly. “Hello, my name is Patti; what is yours?” I asked, attempting to break the awkward silence and begin some form of connecting. After we made the rounds with names and cities from which we came, the dialogue began to flow more freely. One lady told of their family’s imminent move to a new city due to a job change. Immediately following, the lady just to my right made a comment about her pet iguana, which caught the attention of all at the table and which subsequently occupied the remainder of our breakfast-time fellowship.
Nine years ago, this woman’s daughter had returned home from a trip to the mall with a six-inch lizard. Well, who could resist the smiling face of their little girl enamored by a small, non-aggressive new pet? (Actually, I think I could have resisted if it meant living with a reptile!) This mother, however, succumbed to her daughter’s charm. Nine years later, the family found themselves co-inhabiting a home in northern Michigan with a five-foot iguana whose native habitat is, by the way, the hot tropical climate of South America. What an unlikely connection!
I sat fascinated as I listened to the attachment this woman had formed with the family pet. She told us of the lizard’s diet and habits. Her eyes twinkled as she explained how the pet licked chocolate from her finger. (Think about that – a chocoholic iguana!) The family bird regularly chirped taunts at it; the 12-year-old cat barely tolerated it; the dog tried to herd it; but the lizard was the dominate household pet.
Captivating me more than her tales was her obvious affection for the iguana. I found myself musing over what could cause anyone other than a paleontologist, zoologist, veterinarian, or some little girl’s younger brother to be infatuated with an animal of this kind. The question actually occupied my thoughts throughout the entire weekend (which is not a commentary on the quality of the conference since I was the main speaker). I tried to insert myself into the picture and imagine the whole experience up close and personal. That really didn’t work. I tried to delete the whole conversation from my thoughts as just non-essential details. That didn’t work either. Finally, I did the thing that I usually come back to, I thought on the scriptures.
The Bible tells us that God created man and then gave man rule over all the rest of His creation. The land, the seas, and even the animals were given for us to tend and to enjoy. Conservationists acknowledge man’s responsibility to care for the earth; sportsman love to challenge and conquer every element of nature; and scientists search to uncover every secret woven into the design of creation. We belong here and we have a God-connection with nature. And, at that, creation is so vast and diverse that individual tastes, particular preferences, and even personal quirks can all be catered to as we each select the areas that delight or interest us.
One man thrills at a sunset while another scales the steep slopes of the mountain. Someone may pick a dog for a pet while someone else prefers a cat. However varied our interests, we hold this in common – we are drawn to nature in all its various forms, genus, or species. Everything in creation is God’s gift to us – even the iguana.