I think this is a marbled salamander. My friend Carol and I saw him on our long walk yesterday on the greenway. We don't know why he has a muddy tail. However, we did muse about the possible reasons.
Here are our guesses:
1. He is a she and she used the tail to dig a hole for her eggs. (Do salamanders do that?)
2. He used his tail for salamander pole vaulting.
Otherwise, I'm out of ideas. Any herpetologists out there that can help me here?
There is one interesting fact about salamander tails I did discover later while recuperating from my 9-mile walk. The tail can break off, and grow back! It is a tricky way to avoid predators. The predator gets side-tracked eating the tail while the rest of the salamander skedaddles. Sure the salamander loses a tail in the process, but he has the long-term perspective. Lose a tail, save a life. It will grow back in a few weeks.
The salamander we saw on the path had a pretty short tail. I am wondering if it was dirty because someone tried to eat him, so he let his tail fly off to distract the predator, and then escaped. Maybe the dirt was from the scuffle.
The more I thought about the salamander's tail, the more I realized what God wanted me to ponder. There is a Bible verse that says, "And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It's better to enter eternal life with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into the fire of hell." Matthew 18:9
I do not think God is telling us to literally pluck out our eye. I think He is telling us that we need to turn our eyes away instantly from anything that might entice us to sin. That is how dangerous sin is, how reprehensible it is in the sight of our holy, righteous God. It would be preferable to go through life with one eye than to endure the eternal consequence of separation from God through our sin.
I stopped a car leaving the abortion center yesterday driven by a young man with two toddlers in the back seat. He had just dropped his wife off to kill their third child. He was gentle, soft-spoken, intelligent, and said he was a new Christian.
"Sir," I told him, "If you had not told me that, our discussion would be a little different. But if you claim Christ, then I am going to speak to you as I would any fellow Christian. You cannot claim Christ and then blatantly defy what He clearly commands."
The amazing thing is the young man did not just drive away. There was a fierce battle going on in his soul. He knew (and admitted) that he should get out of the car, go back in there and demand to see his wife. Then he should do everything in his power to convince her that he would stand with her through the birth and raising of their third child. The truly sad part was that his wife was conflicted just as the young man was. Both knew abortion was wrong, and both knew God would not have them do it.
But their eyes were not on God. Their eyes were on the struggle the new baby would cause, and they would rather deny God's blessing and power than sacrifice the security and comfort they felt the abortion would provide.
I spoke to him for at least half an hour along with one of our new counselors, but then felt I needed to return to speaking to other women from the sidewalk. (Two chose life!) I sent Dwight over to speak with him. Dwight is an ex-pro NFL player and his 'star' power along with his strong Christian faith is compelling. Nonetheless, the man never got out of his car, and as far as we know, his wife went through with the abortion.
If any part of us leads us to destruction, better to get rid of that part! The salamander gets this. Do we?