Recently I was speaking with a friend who related the story of her interaction with a small, but alluring lizard. It seems Sheri was taking a reflective walk along the San Juan River, near Mexican Hat, while on a quest for a white feather. The feather was needed for a healing ceremony she was looking forward to participating in.
Metal Art Lizard
While cautiously making her way along the rocky and log littered riverbank, she came across a blue-bellied lizard lazily lounging on a water worn and sun baked tree limb. Sheri stopped instantly when she recognized the resting reptile. The, long-anticipated, early spring sunlight, and the warmth it provided, had caused the lizard to be less than wary of interlopers.
As soon as the creature realized its space had been invaded, it beat a hasty retreat to the dark side of the log. Sheri is not one to intentionally disrupt the harmony of anyone or anything, so she backed off a step to give the lizard time to calm its nerves and reassess the situation.
The now souped up and highly aware reptile must have been surprised that there was no aggression directed at him, so he peeked out from under the branch to reconnoiter an escape. In the meantime, Sheri had knelt down to the lizard’s level to gain a better perspective. Before they knew it, Sheri and the lizard were in close proximity.
Looking her over carefully, the seemingly unperturbed lizard must have found her rather agreeable, because it moved toward her and began eyeing her affectionately. Our now bold “Blue Boy” stayed awhile and silently communed with Sheri in a very simple, basic manner; they admired one another.
Unfortunately Sheri could not hold her position indefinitely and eventually had to shift her weight to relieve the pressure on her knees. This caused her to brush a small pile of dry, brittle leaves with her foot. The slight movement and accompanying noise caused the spell to be broken. Sheri’s new friend sprang from the limb and sprinted out of sight amongst the myriad rocks and tangled litter of washed-up flotsam.
When Sheri spoke with me about the blue-bellied lizard, she was a bit embarrassed to have been emotionally touched by such a simple encounter. I, on the other hand, was impressed that she was so in tune with her environment as to feel the strings that connected her to one of nature’s tiny creatures. The force is strong in this one!
After Sheri shared her lizard experiences with me, she asked what connection the Navajo people have with these creatures. I am always a bit embarrassed when someone asks me to interpret Navajo culture, so I tend to preface my answers with something like, “Well as I understand it”.
Navajo Folk Art by Artists
Marvin Jim & Grace Begay
In any case, what came to mind is derived from the old herky, jerky Coyote story film strips we saw in grade school. The films were produced at the Blanding Media Center with the aid of local Navajo people. I specifically recall the story of the lizards having a grand old time while sliding down a sand hill on flat rocks.
Coyote tried to join in on the fun, but was told he did not have the skills and would most likely break his head if he tried. Of course Coyote had to try his hand, or foot as it were, at “sand surfing,” and did in fact break his head. Coyote was then chastised by an old, bent and wizened lizard with much knowledge, understanding and respect for Navajo culture, and life in general.
The lizard lectured Coyote about his limitations, intruding in on others’ affairs and the consequences associated with such intrusion. Because of this, I have always viewed lizards as educators wise in the ways of tradition, ceremony and life ways; a thoughtful and considerate teacher willing to share their experiences with those seeking answers. Maybe Sheri’s lizard recognized a compassionate, kindred soul with open heart and mind.
Certainly I am not a “monk on a mountain,” and I clearly do not have the answers to life’s most pressing questions. In my humble opinion, however, it is the simple occurrences we often overlook that have the ability to touch us most. Sheri had shared time, and the most basic form of communication, with one of God’s smallest creatures. She did not find the white feather she sought; she did however carry away the music of the river and the joy of nature’s encounter. Little things really do mean a lot!
With warm regards,
Barry, Steve and the Team.
Copyright 2007 Twin Rocks Trading Post