A couple weeks ago I saved a turtle. My husband and I were driving in Henry County along a winding road to New Castle, KY, and we saw a turtle in the road. After I shouted “that was a turtle!” Adam asked if we should turn around. Of course I said yes, and so we did. It wasn’t the safest idea I’ve ever had, but I did it. I ran into the middle of the road and picked the little guy up by his shell, and, while he hissed at me, I placed him safely in the grass on the other side of the road. As we drove away a huge tractor drove by which would have totally crushed the poor guy, and I said out loud that I felt saving that turtle was one of the most significant acts of gratitude in my life, no joke.
In May of 2011 Adam and I went on a nine-day pilgrimage to the Bahá'í World Centre in Haifa, Israel. On the final day of our pilgrimage, at our final Holy Place visit—at the House of the Master—I stepped outside to take a moment for myself and I saw a turtle, right smack dab in the center of the sidewalk. He was looking right at me, as if to say “I have something to tell you”. In that moment I was overwhelmed by a knowing that Adam and I would be taken care of, and not in a general sort of way, in a very specific way—our housing would be provided for us for a good long while. So this turtle, who carries his house wherever he goes, was showing me that our housing would be taken care of so that we could focus on other, more important things in the early years of our marriage.
I was a student, and after we were married in January of 2011 I transferred to the college Adam worked at in Saint Peter, MN. Shortly after returning from pilgrimage, my husband was offered a secondary position at the college as a head resident at one of the campus dorms. So in the summer of 2011, we moved into an apartment on campus—our accommodations provided for—for two years.
As I approached graduation we began to look at other opportunities, one of which was service in the Holy Land, at the Bahá'í World Centre—where we had visited for pilgrimage. Prior to my graduation we were invited to serve for 30 months. Moving to a new country is an exciting and challenging experience, and it was seamless in part because our accommodations were provided for us while overseas.
As our time in the Holy Land drew to a close, and we began to think about next steps, we decide to return to the US and be near family. We didn’t want to just jump back into life as we knew it, for we had been changed by our experience overseas, and we wanted to be mindful about what we did next. We were very fortunate in that we were able to live with Adam’s parents for 17 months while we adjusted to life back in the US. As our time with them drew to a close we were offered a service position in Louisville, KY, which provided accommodations.
For the last six years our accommodations have been provided for us, and every time we moved I thought about that turtle and was grateful.
Last month our service ended in Louisville, and while we were offered another opportunity that would have provided us with accommodations, we decided it was time to change the course of our lives. My husband accepted a position teaching High School English in Henry County, KY, and on our way to the high school to see his classroom we saw a turtle. Yep, the turtle at the start of this story. And while I was carrying him over to the side of the road I felt something shift. It felt so significant, saving that turtle. It was almost like saving him was my way of expressing gratitude to that other turtle for its message all those years ago. It was more than that; it was my way of thanking God for sending me messages in ways that I understand, for truly providing for Adam and me while we began the work of building a solid foundation for our marriage, and for letting me know that while it is a bit scary to have all the bills that come with having your own place, we made the right choice, and we will be provided for in other ways.
So here I sit, in our new apartment reflecting on the gratitude I feel for the years of support that we have received, in awe of the mystical workings of the Divine, leaning into this new chapter in our lives, and humbled by the message of not one, but two turtles.
In awe of God's will,