Grace is not what comes to mind when one thinks of a turtle. But that’s because you’re looking from the outside. You’re confused by the lumbering, the heavy lifting required to tote their fortresses with every step. If you see inside a turtle, you see something as graceful and elegant as a gazelle or a ballerina on point. For millennia they have been dancing the rivers of this world, unchanged. So perfectly crafted by the Creator, they have been able to adapt to extremes other creatures couldn’t endure. And yet, they don’t flaunt their ancient wisdom. They make their homes in seas and rivers and woodlands and parched places on the crust of  Mother Earth. Not choosy, they go wherever they can.

And, somehow, they make homes in the hearts of humans. A few years ago, as I zipped along the highway heading south into town, I saw a turtle crossing the road on the other side. As quickly as I was able to find a break in the median, I pulled my red truck into a u-turn and went north. Then I saw a woman who’d parked her car, and was carrying the critter to the tall grass at the edge of the lake. I waited there until she returned. “I just wanted to say thank you,” I offered. “I love turtles.”

She smiled and acknowledged my gratitude, then leaned forward. “What’s that?” she asked, pointing to my necklace. I clutched the pendant and smiled. It was a turtle pendant given to me by my sister. Simultaneously, her hand went to her neck and she held out a small turtle pendant. There was grace in that moment, two humans standing on common ground, knowing something about each other that had no words, something that ran, deep and ancient, something that could cut through stone.

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