16 Turtles on a Log

by Melannie Svoboda SND on September 30, 2013

The other day I saw an amazing sight: 16 turtles sunning themselves on a log in a nearby lake. Sixteen! I counted them several times just to be sure I had the number right. Every now and then one turtle would jump off or fall off or be pushed off by another turtle. But I did see all 16 at the same time on that log. Actually there were two logs side by side.

Right away I looked around for someone to share my discovery with. That particular afternoon there were few people in the park. But on my way out, I met a woman in the parking lot. She was just getting her Labrador retriever out of the car to go for a walk. I said to her turtlesexcitedly, “I just saw 16 turtles on a log in the lake!”  “Sixteen!?” she exclaimed.  “Where are they?” Immediately I knew I had connected with a kindred soul! So I told her where the turtles could be found. “I have to go see them!” she said and hurried away with her dog.

Sometimes we are the beneficiaries of a pure delight. We do nothing to cause the delight. We do nothing to control it. And most times we are not even expecting it. Rather we are just going about our ordinary daily business and out of nowhere this pure delight drops into our lap–kerplunk! Our response is usually one of surprise, awe, and gratitude. When I encounter a pure delight my thoughts turn immediately to God. In fact, when I encounter something like those 16 turtles, I find myself saying to God, “It’s You again, isn’t it, my dear God?” And then  I add, “Thanks for the treat!”

Barbara Brown Taylor, an Episcopal priest from Atlanta, says, “Prayer is more than saying prayers at set times. It is waking up to God’s presence no matter where I am or what I’m doing.” Even walking in a park! Those turtles woke me up that day, reminding me that God is indeed in our midst.

When we encounter a pure delight, we usually look for someone to share it with. How many times have you said to someone, “Come look at the rainbow!” Or, “Come look at the sunset….the sunrise…the unusual bird at the feeder…the little kid dancing…the baby chipmunk…the snow on the trees…” Or how many times has someone else said to you, “Listen to the cicada…smell the lilacs…taste this apple pie…feel this kitten’s fur.” The old adage says, “Misery loves company.” But so do joy and beauty and wonder and good news.

The Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer defined a blessing as “the visible, perceptive, effective proximity of God.” I love that! That’s what those turtles were to me.  The writer Donna Schaper says this about how God is always gracing our world with blessings: “God is spreading grace in the world like a 5-year-old spreads peanut butter: thickly, sloppily, eagerly.”

When our journey on earth is finished and we meet God face to face, I don’t think God is going to ask us about our sins and failings. Instead, I think God might ask us, “So, what did you enjoy during your time on earth?”  If God does, I will find myself listing all kinds of people and places and things. I might even say, “And, God, one day I saw 16 turtles on a log!”

What have been some of your encounters with “pure delight”?

 

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Kathleen Magiera September 30, 2013 at 5:05 am

There is 3 year old little boy who sits in front of me with his parents at Sunday Mass. He is such a “pure delight” to the whole congregation! He pretends to sing from his song sheet, smiles hello to the people behind him, and of course plays with his little cars. He reminds me Jesus is present at Sunday Mass every week.

Great topic Sr. Melannie!

Kathleen

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Colleen September 30, 2013 at 9:42 am

I read the topic of your blog and immediately scrolled down to see if you included a picture (which of course you did!) and felt pure delight myself! Thank you so much for sharing that gift from God! A few of my recent delights: listening to a mockingbird sing/show off, 7 ducks visiting my bird feeder, a hummingbird-moth in my garden (which I had to look up after dragging my daughter out there to share in the discovery) and the gorgeous Fall skies that never cease to amaze me (my family calls them “God’s painting”). As many of the delights that I enjoy, I know there are many, many more that I walk by in my haste to get things done. Makes me think of times when my girls were young and would come to me with some handmade gift-usually I gushed over it and let them tell me (in great detail) what it was, but there were certainly times when I would give it a cursory glance and say, “That’s nice sweetie, why don’t you put it on the frig for later?” because I was “busy.” How often do I do that to God and the gifts He bestows on me everyday? Your blog reminds me to take the time to enjoy pure delight whenever and however it comes my way and always remember to appreciate the gift but give glory to the Giver!
p.s. turtles are never in a hurry, are they?:)

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Marilyn T. sabatino, S.N.D. September 30, 2013 at 10:21 am

Mel, your reflections are a pure delight…also I thnk you know that sea shells delight me as well as the sea, ocean or lakes, reflecting God’s beauty and strength in my life ….and light houses remind me of Christ Jesus light of the world. thanks for your reflections, Marilyn

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Rose September 30, 2013 at 10:19 am

I was driving to work the other morning and could not take the highway as there was an accident that shut down the two lanes. I took the local route instead (which is a little longer) so I knew I would be late. It was a beautiful autumn morning so I thoroughly enjoyed the scenery along the way and the various children waiting for their school buses. I also received an unexpected phone call (don’t worry, Bluetooth in the car) from my son and had a nice conversation. It turned out to be an extremely great start to the day!

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Mary Beth September 30, 2013 at 10:57 am

Recently was “entertained” by 14 Egrets, at once, during the low tide of the ocean in MA. Magnificent to experience Gods’ creation. God speaks so lovingly and playfully to me through nature, especially birds. As I read your reflection I was delighted to hear others are so blessed. Thanks for your turtle sightings!

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Susan September 30, 2013 at 11:09 am

Pure delight for me is when I see my 3 grandchildren running toward me as they pick me up at the airport. The smiles on their faces and their frantic running to hug and kiss me is more than I can bear. It brings a smile to my face and tears to my eyes, tears of joy.

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Mary Schneider September 30, 2013 at 11:39 am

All of these reflections bring life to “How Great Thou Art”. Thank you God for beauty, and Sr. Melannie for reminding us to be aware of it.

Mary

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Judy Locascio September 30, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Awesome :))

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Suzanne Sayer September 30, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Thank you for sharing and for the reminder to look around–God is everywhere!

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Penny Finley September 30, 2013 at 3:22 pm

So many things delight me; I’m like a child: when I see a deer, a rainbow, a hot air balloon, a helicopter, just to name a few..But what really gets my attention is the chipmunk that suns itself atop the Blessed Mother’s statue with its tail gracefully curved under her chin. A very nice bonnet, indeed! Your fan, Penny

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Kathy Hassink September 30, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Today I cleaned several stupice tomatoes and am drying the seeds to plant again next year. These are from the heritage tomatoes your dad gave me many years ago – from seeds he brought back from Czechoslovakia! I think of him every time I dry these seeds and again, in the spring, every time I plant them. So blessed to have had such a wonderful uncle and a big, loving family! Thinking of you too dear cousin…

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Gail September 30, 2013 at 7:59 pm

I had a moment of “pure delight” at the end of August, on a trip to visit family in northern CA – we had just arrived at my cousin’s home in the mountains, they weren’t home, still at work, and we were unable to raise them on the cell phone. I walked over to the next door neighbor’s house, (figured I could persuade them to let me use their facilities) when what do I encounter but a deer standing in their front yard not 6 or 7 feet away. I stopped and we both just looked at each other. It was like such a frozen moment in time, and I immediately just thought about how God has created such beautiful creatures that we should take the time to reflect on their beauty….and that’s just what I did. He just stood their and we just gazed at each other, it was such a special moment. Now people who live in mountainous regions might think this is so nothing special, but I live where you’re more likely to come upon a gator than a deer, so to me it was such a special moment, and it’s etched in my happy memories portion of my brain! Thanks be to God for all his creations.

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Lu October 1, 2013 at 6:03 am

I loved the picture of the Turtles. Early this morning, when I walked my dog, the stars were so plentiful, bright and beautiful, like every Fall.
Sorry I missed you at NDCL – Your new book is wonderful. It made me laugh and cry! Thank you so much, Sister.
Stay Healthy and Happy – God Bless You

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Anne October 1, 2013 at 8:42 am

Pure delight is seeing someone laugh whole-heartedly to me. I love nature and walk in Gully Brook every day. A couple of days ago, I saw two wooly bears and a wood-pecker. The leaves are just starting to change and it’s so pretty there. Nature always connects me with God!!

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Stephanie October 1, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Lately, challenges, obstacles and disappointments have crowded my life so your call to think about “pure delights” was most welcomed! Two specific instances came to mind. The first was the “pure delight” of spending the afternoon with my young adult daughter at a painting class. She posted our paintings on her Facebook page and it brought me joy to know and experience her love! The second “pure delight” came at work. After dealing with some ongoing tensions, yesterday a solution surfaced that exceeded my wildest expectations! All parties’ needs are being met and I left work with a huge smile knowing barriers had been broken and a new season of cooperation and collaboration was at hand. I silently thanked God for arranging it all and for giving me “eyes to see”.
Blessings, Stephanie

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Michelle K. October 9, 2013 at 3:23 pm

Camping in the great outdoors and looking up into the sky at night (away from all light noise) and beholding the wondrous heavens and remembering the story of Abram(Abraham) and God telling him to look and count the stars if he could. Then chuckling because God is probably putting this same thought into our heads and we start to count and realize that it cannot be done! Yes, and there is God chuckling to himself! Infinite! Just like his love for us in all generations.

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John F Bonella October 26, 2013 at 5:00 am

Warm spot in my heart for SND’s Graduated from SN Academy in 1947, here in Phila. your reflections in Living Faith always tickle me and are very refreshing- about life as we see it. For a while there, I had been saving them,but then in a “clean out mode” they were dispatched along with many over clippings. Not a good idea, but hen could they be complied into a reflection book? Enjoyed when the rain falls.
read where you are going to be at Ville Maria in November. That is a very short drive from my house- may be- just may be, I can stop by.

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