This week on the blog, I want to tell a story about turtles.
When I was working for Appalachia Service Project, a home repair ministry in the mountains, we kept a tally on the board in our office of how many “turtle saves” we got in a summer. “Turtle saves” are exactly what they sound like: we tried to save as many turtles as we could. To sun themselves on the warm concrete, turtles were always crawling into the middle of the road, despite the lumber-loaded 15 passenger vans we were driving up and down said roads every day. Unfortunately, they often blended into the concrete. By the time you saw them it was too late, and your heart sank as the van sailed on without so much as a little bump. However, every once in a while some eagle eyed staff member would see one in the road, slam on the brakes, throw the car into park in the middle of the road and leap out of the van.
The thing about turtles, though, is that they are easily confused, so rescuing a turtle is a bit more complicated than simply picking it up. If you just chuck the turtle out of the road, the turtle becomes completely disoriented, turns around and makes it’s way back to the last place it knew; the last place that was familiar and comfortable (read: the middle of the road). To be fair, they had no idea they were in danger of imminent death, but in order to save these turtles who insisted the middle of the road was the safest place for them, you had to crouch down pick the turtle up off the ground a few inches and slowly crouch-walk with the turtle out of the middle of the road. This way the turtle could see where they were, where they were going and where they ended up.
Now I won’t spend a lot of time waxing poetic about the allegory of this story (Hint: we’re the turtles and Jesus comes low beside us to lead us out of danger). I’ll just say, for those who have asked, this is why I always wear a turtle necklace. Because in the most unlikely places of God’s creation, I am learning more about what it means to be human and, more importantly, what it means that Christ is human.