Turtle and Bloom © 09-07-21 Molly Lin Dutina
I came upon a turtle at the pond today. I missed her completely the first time I walked past. She was totally camouflaged by duck weed. The lily leaves were withering and the ones left standing placed shadows around her similar to the shape of her shell.
I took one photo and drew closer to the water’s edge for another, hoping she would not slip into the water and vanish completely from my sight.
I posed no threat as she remained in her position on the log. I began to realize that she must be a very old turtle by her size.
As I changed my position along the shore, I could see her more clearly. I began to notice the lily leaves, first as obstacles to my photographic efforts, and then as tattered, themselves old from a hot summer of sun and storms and wind. I was reminded of the poem I wrote at the Nature Center 19 years ago about the lily pads, (for the complete poem see the Stand and Tip blog) and the subsequent admonition from the Lord to me, “Perhaps I could ask you just to be a lily leaf. Fill up with mercurial spheres and overflow. Stand and tip. Ponder this My lily shield.” Here I am at the same location these many years later, seeking solace and direction at my current age in my current state.
The next photo attempt brought the lovely lily bloom into my photographic range. I had seen a dropped petal in the weeds along the shore line. It was fresh and somewhat velvety as I placed it between folds of paper in my journal.
When I tried to frame the next photo the blossom made for good composition. Tired leaves, old turtle, flower blooming, though fading. Suddenly I was looking at a mini portrait of my life in the very frog pond that inspired me so many years ago. I have been wrestling with the topic of aging and the pain and distress that seem to be increasing in my body as I age.
2 COR 4: 16-18 came to mind: “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
I had recently mentioned to Bob that I do not like to grow white roses as the petals begin to darken with the slightest bruising. Here I see a creamy lily flower bearing the beating of sun, wind, and storms yet barely showing the effects in her waxy petals. The aging turtle remained on the log, still enjoying her sunbathing, unperturbed by one woman on the shore taking digital photos. The lily leaves tattered, yet most still erect on their flexible stalks, able to gather a summer shower and tip when the pad is full.
At first glance my negative mind set cries, “Just look at her! Surrounded by decay and destruction! Duckweed hanging on her lovely shell. Leaves decaying and spoiled all around her! All alone on that log!” Then as I ponder I see her wisdom caused her to cover her shell with duckweed to blend in, her courage in taking a sunbath even if the other turtles choose not to, and regardless of her surroundings she is looking up, even now, the changes in my attitude begin. Wisdom, courage, and keep looking up! Yes, as one author said, “I need me some of that!”
Upon closer inspection I am able to see the lovely colors in her neck, the awesome nails and webbing in her feet. The coloring continues around the under-edge of her shell into her legs. Most importantly, I realize she is looking up, as I am called to do, fixing my eyes upon things eternal. Letting go of the obvious pain and aging issues I am able to relax on my favorite bench and simply soak in the pond activity: belching frogs, passing humans, bird song and noonday joy.