Every few weeks our turtle, specifically our tortoise, comes to visit. Sometimes we know he’s around because we hear him rustling in the border grass. Sometimes, as it was last week, he shows up in the carport wanting a supper of cat food. Although turtle experts say cat food is not generally good for them, there’s no way with his eating apparatus that this fellow will consume a harmful amount of it. We enjoy watching him turn his head this way and that to get a nibble in his funny mouth.
We named him Red because of an identifying mark we painted on his back. I understand turtles can live to a very old age, maybe 80 like me! So far we know Red is at least six years old. Unlike some turtles I’ve known, Red is very sociable. He doesn’t hide his head; he investigates, sets those claws on the floor and moves about, opens his eyes to see all that he can see. Reminds me of us visiting in a foreign land wanting to take in all the sights.
We like to set him on the porch and talk to him as he scratches around with those sharp claws, approaching our feet without fear, nosing against strange shapes like a flower stand base. We put a nibble of cat food on the floor for him which he seems thoroughly to enjoy. After a while, though, he’s ready to go home (in some cool declevity under an azalea bush, probably) so he starts circling the perimeters to find a way out. When the children are here, they are very loath to let him go, then burst into competition over who will set him free.
This time was a little different. The children weren’t here. We have a new screen that opens with a gentle push and snaps back in place with magnets. It’s very good for people with walkers! We wanted to see if Red could find his way out through this new option.
He circled the porch pausing often to try a little push against the hard wood with, of course, no results. Each time he arrived at the new curtain-like screen we cheered for him to push through. A couple of times he even stopped right at the loose opening and all but stuck his blunt head through. But then he plodded on around his circle. At one impenetrable corner of the porch he worked so hard trying to get out that he turned himself over on his back and Charles had to set him back on his feet.
Charles finally had mercy on him and carried him outside to head home.
Somehow Red’s efforts made me think about how a person can hut in all the wrong places for a way out of trouble, a way to peace and happiness. We may even find the right opening, as Red found the screen, and still not recognize it. We exhaust ourselves hunting the way out when all the time it’s right there in front of us. We may push so hard we even turn ourselves upside down when all the time the door to light and freedom is waiting for us. The only door to freedom is Jesus Christ. If we submit to Him, the Master will lift us in His gentle hands and set us on the path to peace and our eternal home.