Faith Stories: Red-eared sliders
How many are your works, O Lord!
In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond
number – living things both large and small.
Psalm 104: 24-25
The red-eared slider turtles congregate on the mud bank, sunbathing in tranquil communion. From a distance, they could easily be mistaken for a group of World War I army helmets abandoned in the dirt. As I surreptitiously approach, hoping not to disturb the touchingly peaceful scene, their sensitive ears detect my slow steps rustling through the wildflower-filled grass, and in a sudden burst of energy, they all cascade into the safety of the murky canal.
On a recent day, rife with particularly disturbing news of our community’s struggle with the pandemic, I decided to visit “my” turtles. In that special place, I often experience a quick chuckle, a lifting of the spirit, and a renewal of gratitude for all of God’s creation. I carefully approached, breathing in the fresh breeze as I focused my eyes on the pod of ‘helmets’ on the bank. As expected, almost as a unit, the turtles slid down the bank into the water. Except one.
As I drew closer, the sole turtle held his ground, lifting his face toward the sun and allowing me to sit across the water from him to share several minutes of sacred quiet. In those moments I too wanted to lift my face to the light, to feel the peace and presence of Christ. I wanted to be like that turtle – to seek the light in spite of perceived danger.
This brief but precious encounter brought amazing reassurance and reminded me that we can feel God’s presence in any moment if we simply hold ourselves attentive and stand steadfast in our faith.
Prayer: Awesome God, how you bless us with your grace and love! Guide us as we navigate these difficult times and help us to be ever aware of your loving and caring presence. Amen.