Joyce Rupp Reflection -- July, 2016

posted Aug 7, 2016, 1:50 PM by Sue Weigand   [ updated Aug 7, 2016, 1:51 PM ]
Last week I encountered an unusual creature on a forested walking path. I happened to look down and saw a tiny snapping turtle the size of one-third of my palm. I almost stepped on it because the camouflaged, mud-caked shell looked much like dirt on the path. The tiny head and feet were hidden under its shell, which led me to think the turtle was dead. I bent over to carry it to the side of the path. As I lifted it up, a slight movement told me it was scared, not dead. I didn't want the creature to be smashed by a heavy foot or a biker's tire so I laid it down carefully in the grass. After I walked about twenty feet a sudden thought stopped me. I remembered the small creek on our farm. Pregnant snapping turtles would come out of the water and go on land to incubate their eggs. They would dig a hole, lay their eggs and cover them with soil for protection and warmth. I once saw little turtles like the one I found on the path painstakingly making their way down to our creek after hatching. I said to myself, "That little turtle is just trying to find its way to the water."

With this memory I quickly back-tracked and found the lost one, picked it up and carried it a hundred feet to the edge of the lake. An amazing thing took place as I set the turtle down on the sand. At first the hatchling pulled its head and feet in tightly. Then the head slowly came out and pulled upward, as if sniffing the air. The turtle wasn't looking at the water but I soon realized it was actually getting a whiff of the moistness. It sat there for a minute with a puzzled look, then turned toward the water and moved as fast as its tiny feet would go. Into the lake it slipped, quickly out of view. If turtles have an experience of ecstasy that probably best describes the moment it dashed into the water. I loved seeing what happened when that little creature recognized "home."

As I walked away from the lake, I kept smiling about the newly-born turtle's recognition of where it belonged. Metaphors and parallels formed about my inner life. I wondered: Do I know my Source? Am I at Home? How often do I 'sniff the air" and find where my heart belongs? How quickly do I move toward what brings the greatest sense of peace and well-being? I thought of the countless things that distract me from heading toward the Source, toward the One Great Love, where my heart knows it belongs. I pondered what causes me to withdraw like the turtle when I fear what could be challenging or uncertain. Gradually a prayer formed and kept me bonded with the Holy One as I made my way around the rest of the lake:

Source of my life, Home of my spiritual heritage,
pick me up from the path of my fruitless wanderings.
Carry me back to you, the birthplace of loving kindness.
Be tender with my fears. Draw me out if I tend to pull back.
When I get buried in the darkened corridors of uncertainty,
help me emerge from my mud-laden shell of confusion.
Reorient me in the right direction that leads toward you.
Show me time and again how to arrive where I belong.
Encourage me to eagerly seek your presence.
Remind me often that you are my Source and true Home.

Abundant peace,
 
Joyce Rupp