She was an average turtle. Living an average turtle life. Like turtles do. Every day, along with her turtle friends- she slowly made her way to the water lily and cat tail lined pond-that she called home. It’s where she found both the beauty and sustenance she needed to survive and thrive.
One day, as she walked on the cool grass- a seagull swooped down and pecked her. Hard. In the head. The one tiny spot where she was vulnerable. She immediately pulled into her shell. All four tiny feet, her head and her tail.
She stayed in there- halfway to the pond for a night and a day.
She got hungry. Very hungry.
The next morning she decided to risk the walk again- “I need to get to the pond.” She gingerly peeked out from her shell- and saw her turtle friends making their way safely to the pond. She carefully and watchfully, joined them.
The safety and relief she felt as she slipped into the water, was heavenly.
For a few minutes she snacked and sunned peacefully. Until: the bite.
The bite of a pike. Which is a little like a fish with a saw for a jaw.
The pain in her tender turtle foot blazed. She started for the shore.
She limped. Part of her tiny turtle foot was gone. Once on shore, she again retreated into her shell. Safe. protected. “I’m never leaving my shell again.” She was determined. She meant it.
She stayed tucked inside herself for a day and a night. She grew hungry. Thirsty. She grew cold, as the shade and night replaced the sun.
Still. she stayed in her shell.
Each day, other turtles took made their way to the pond. She watched as some suffered their own pains. “Nope. I’m not going out there. It’s not safe.” Each day she grew more hungry, more weak more alone.
Finally- one of the other turtles gently nudged her shell…..”Are you ok, in there? You need to come out- you need to eat and sun….we miss you. And if you don’t eat.. well.. you’ll die.”
“No, I am not ok.” The turtle snapped. “I was pecked in the head and before that even healed- a pike bit off one of my feet. I’m hurting and I’m not going to be hurt again. I’m not going to that pond again. As a matter of fact-I’m staying right here- safe in my shell.”
Her turtle friend peeked into her shell… she saw the pain on her friends face and the blood from the wounds. She also noticed how weakened the turtle looked. She was worried.
“I know you’re hurting. But- I also know you’re getting weaker by the moment. The pond is where you need to go. You need to eat. You need the sun. I know you’re afraid. But- look. See? ” And the turtle friend held out her own tiny turtle foot… or what once had been a turtle foot and was now a turtle stub. “Wounds can heal. I know. I’ve been hurt. I also know it’s scary to come back out once you’ve been hurt. But if you don’t- you’ll surely die. Staying in your shell and staying away from the thing you need most- might feel safe- but it isn’t. It’s the most dangerous thing you can do. I’ll tell you what. Let’s walk to the pond- together.”
The turtle peeked her head out of her shell- just barely enough to see her friend.
“Did you really lose a foot?”
Her friend waggled her front stump in reply.
“Are you sure we’ll be safe?” The turtle asked- as her turtle tummy rumbled and her parched turtle mouth longed for the sweet taste of fresh pond water…
“Not really” Said her turtle friend. “But , we’ll be together. and I am sure of this- the pond is where we need to go. It’s our only hope for survival and healing.”
The turtle knew her friend was right. She had to try again. She had to trust- even though she was so afraid that the turtle toes she had left shook.
And so- the turtles slowly, stumbled their broken way to the pond- slipped in together and ate their fill of the tastiest treats. They sunned on a piece of drift wood. The little turtle grew stronger. She healed. She trusted the pond again.
I’d like to say the turtles lived safely ever after- but turtles- like all things- suffer and die. The truth is- the turtles lived their lives- fully- with pain and delight- as turtles should.
And when they were hurt again- they made their way back to the pond each time. Not because it was safe- but because it was what they needed.
Dear Lord- we are all turtles…. we have trouble trusting. When we’re hurt-we want to retreat into our shells and never leave again. Sometimes we retreat from others- sometimes we retreat from you. I know- because I’ve done both. The problem is- when we retreat into our selves- and our shells- it keeps us from the things we need so desperately to heal and thrive and survive.
The pond. The pond of community where we encourage, nourish and heal each other and the pond of your love….. where our deepest needs can be met and our deepest hurts can be healed.
Lord- make us brave enough to trust again. Yes- even you. Which I know is ridiculous- but we do it. We retreat when we’re hurt and keep ourselves from the very source of what we need.
Help us to take the risk to try again- to peek out from our shells and make our way to the pond.
Lord- some of us have been hurt by life- some by others and some by sickness and things we wish you’d have kept us safe from- and honestly? It can make us retreat from you.
All these things and so many more- can make us retreat to our shells. Heal our hurts, Lord. And as you do- give us courage to peek into the shells of those we walk near as we make our own broken way back to the pond- those who are hurting, hiding. Give us grace and courage to remind them of the truth- sometimes it’s dangerous out there-but it’s worth it. Give us courage walk beside them. To show our own bumps bruises and hurts and how they’ve healed. Because we kept going back to the source.
Help us Lord- Even here. In the dangerous place we call life. I love you lord. and I pray you’d make us brave, broken little turtles….let’s face it Im already shaped like one- you’ve got a good head start…. I love you lord- amen.
Dear Reader- if you’re hurting. I get it. Scroll through some of my posts and you;ll see how well I do….You’re not alone- dear brother or sister turtle…..I’m hurting too-and healing. Come on- et’s go back to the pond- together. It’s worth it.
****and because someone will be thinking it: Yes- I know this is a sea turtle- not a pond turtle….I took her pic;) She resides at the Mote aquarium in Long Boat Key Florida;) (I think it’s a she… I didn’t check- and wouldn’t have a clue how to:P)
I like to use my own photography vs stock;)