On Wednesday, Alexander and I saw a lovely old tortoise. We had walked in the Nature Reserve, following a beautiful shaded path along the stream. As we walked under the archway that marks the pedestrian entrance, we saw a tortoise trundling along at quite a pace. Its neck was stretched out, and all four legs were fully extended. Its shell was quite white in places, as if all the top layer had been burned off. Where was it off to? We watched, intrigued, as it headed for a puddle of water on the tar, left by the sprinklers. When it reached the water, it sat right down in it and sort of shuffled. It did this several times, before setting off again, still with set intent. It had made a significant detour to reach the water.
The tortoise knew what it needed: it followed the scent of water. The book of Job in the bible talks about how even a tree stump in the ground will sprout and branch again at the scent of water (Job 14:22). That speaks to me about renewal; about resting in God; about following the path to what we know we need and is best for us, even if to others it seems like a detour. And the tortoise enjoyed it!
Some other threads from this episode: Alexander was so intent and focused on that tortoise. He followed it in its slow progress; sat and watched it; delighted in it. It was like a gift and blessing on the day.
Earlier, I had let HIM lead the way, choosing the path, choosing the pace. He decided when we should rest, what to look at. It was so satisfying to see him enjoy this exploration; satisfying just to be patient, and allow him his six-year-old space...
I have decided that this will be the Year of the Tortoise: patience, concentration and intentness, a sense of purpose, rest and restoration in God.