Sunday, October 13, 2013

the truth about turtles

rarely do we get to see the full circle of something. 

i mean, i do see (often, in fact) the full circle of hungry children scrounging around in our pantry -- leaving the door wide open, leaving the light on, leaving the empty box out on the counter. i find the wrapper abandoned on coffee table and a sticky chunk of granola bar affixed to the couch cushion. sometimes, i even see some crumbs on the face. yes, i suppose the full circle of that is pretty commonplace. at least in this home.

but then there are other things. special things. rare things.

like the turtles which showed up on our driveway last week on wednesday. in the middle of a rainy evening.

baby snapping turtles. everywhere.
thirty, maybe forty. 

cute little guys.

 all of us tickled. delighted. curious. what were they doing here?

we slept that night with a turtle migration taking place just outside our front door. 

the next morning, we woke to find even more -- the party had grown.

clearly, they had hatched in our yard and were now heading for the creek. it's what baby turtles do.

a few months earlier -- june, i believe, i watched a big mama turtle amble into the flower bed outside our family room window. her massive body digging deep in the mulch -- laying her eggs. i snapped a quick picture on my phone to show the kids who were away at school. i knew she'd be gone by the time they came home. 

and though she soon traveled back to the creek on the edge of our yard, those eggs stayed all summer long. they stayed buried in a flower bed filled with black-eyed susans and purple coneflower -- at the corner of our house, just outside our window. growing. ripening. readying for the hatch-jubilee and triumphant turtle parade across our busy driveway. 

when the younger kids came home from school, it was all forces combined for the great turtle rescue event of 2013. teen girl, 10 year old boy and the five year old all working together to help these tiny turtles along. my youngest three children on a wildlife mission. one by one, each straggling turtle was carried to the creek bed. whether looking for a ride or not, they got one. it was a perfect, rainy day adventure. the creek was low, the mud was deep and the children determined.

later, with red cheeks and dirty everything, the threesome traipsed back into my kitchen telling stories of how they created a new home for the turtles -- "turtle cove." how they added branches and twigs and leaves. telling stories of how they worked together in the muck and played their part in this grand migratory moment.

when the oldest boy arrived home from soccer a couple of hours later, he too, threw on some creek boots and headed out into our version of the wilderness. he wanted to check things out. oversee the situation. approve. he's like that.

i found him awhile later on the driveway. soccer socks soaking.

boots muddy.

dog soaking too. muddy and in the middle of it all. ridiculously happy.

yes, that's a smile.

an event. a big mess. a wonderful taste of adventure. a slice of something extraordinary.

i watch my kids, and even myself, get all riled up at this kind of thing and it makes my mama-heart sing. i love the mess and the mud and the little bit of wednesday afternoon mayhem. it's unexpected and a tiny bit on the edge. it's different. it's almost like playing pretend. for them. for me.

because, the truth is, i like to be just a little bit on the edge of adventure. i like, now and then, to dip my toe in the water of something that feels just a wee bit wild.

but the truth {also} is ... i'm not sure i want to live there. stay there. camp out here.

i am pretty sure, this was fabulous for one wednesday afternoon ... but really wouldn't want to be dealing with the muddy mess everyday. and though it's fine for my kids, on occasion, to be handling baby snapping turtles on our suburban driveway, what if it's my kids wanting to someday wrestle alligators in the outback or move as missionaries to guatemala city or, even worse, head off with friends on a college road trip? do you know what i mean?

i don't mind the pretend risky living.

but how do i feel when it's a little more real?

because just like this mama turtle, i want to keep my kids in safe shells, nestled away somewhere nice. i want to control my level of adventure. and even more so, i want to control their level of adventure.

i like a little bit of drama ... a tiny bit of something ... as long as i'm the one running the show. as long as i get to pick out the props and set up the stage and dictate the script.

but what happens when we move from migratory turtles in the creek bed to something bigger? larger? wilder?

where am i in that kind of adventure?

when God says be bold, be brave, be outside your comfort zone ... what happens then?

because, we all know, sometimes he asks us to be someplace more than just on our driveway in wet soccer socks.

He has plans for us.

grand plans.

plans for adventure.

and like these tiny turtles bursting forth from their summer shells, i know my kids are all on the verge of bursting forth into a life filled with its share of wilderness ...

i won't be able to control it. and i might not even see the full circle of what it is. i'll get glimpses ... muddy footprints across my heart as i watch them explore, discover, travel, grow, expand, live.

because God didn't create us to stay safely nestled in nice shells or summer gardens ... He created us to head out into the break burst forth ... to be bold ... to become.
“remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. ~ isaiah 43:18-19
i know we're talking about turtles, not ships, but i have always loved this quote ... and think it applies!
"a ship in a harbour is safe, 
but that is not what ships are built for."
 ~ william shedd


Jen Reyneri said...

Hi, Jody-
This is beautiful.. not sure how I stumbled here, but just beautiful. I too pray for that boldness- it reminded me of my turtle post- a different kind, but still- a message the Lord shared from His creation. Hope you enjoy :)

Anonymous said...

My neighbor found about the same sized the other week and now I am keeping it !