I'm remembering the day I first saw her at Gar Creek and how I was beside her before I noticed that she was there. I thought she was amazing and beautiful. She had apparently been laboring a long while before I crossed her path and I'm sure she would have preferred that I never did. It's strange to express how mesmerizing she was to me, and how profound the moment. If I tried to tell you later what I'd seen, I would mumble something about seeing a turtle on the path at the park in my clumsy, uninteresting speech, but could never articulate my real regard for her.
In her movements there was no hurry, worry, or tension. Her presence was patience and resolve. She had already burrowed, apparently, with just her hind legs, a narrow hole that descended into the earth. I think she was resting, or attempting to remain unseen when I stopped, and in deference to her holy work, I only watched for a moment. I only watched for a moment, but I came around to her many times for the next hour or so. Sometimes she'd be resting and sometimes she'd have her leg inside of the hole as she removed more dirt. One of the last times that I came to her, I saw them; shining, white leathery balls. They lay softly tucked inside the hole now, but later she would push them further down and out of sight before burying them completely. This was the treasure that she had been working for all along; her offspring, her babies.
The next day when I arrived, I headed straight to her, only she was not there. No, I didn't expect to find her, but I wanted to see how it was that she finished. I had made note of the spot, though there were no real good markers, I thought I could remember. I searched but couldn't find it, it was as if she hadn't been there. In time I thought I found it, swept clean and all but hidden under the shade of the sugarberry trees. I marveled that no one else but me, no one knew what she had done, and that in two to three months the ground would give way to a great increase, and what was hidden would burst forth and have the potential in this tiny lake ecosystem of multiplying many times over again. In secret the seeds of life were planted.
So what of it all? Her ancient ritual of God-breathed instinct seemed to utter unspoken words. And I couldn't help but imagine a parallel between her and me. Only she was carrying on her calling and I, I deny the gift inside it's due life because of fear and insecurity. She was no more than a mother turtle, and me, I wonder who it is that I am at times? Is who I am made to be o.k. to just be? And I bury the clutch so deep that no one will ever see what God has planted there, yet she, having no reason to do anything but what her instinct told her to do, was doing what was necessary to see an increase.
I resolve. I resolve to be more like her because she spent her days doing what she was made to do. It's so simple, yet so profound to learn from her, and something about her was so beautiful.