Several years ago my son came home from a trip to southern Indiana. He handed me a box and said to me, “Dad, I brought you a gift that I thought you would like”! Sure enough inside was the cutest little yellow and brown box turtle trying to figure away to get out of its cardboard captivity.
Turtles have always fascinated me as far back as I can remember as they drag themselves around in their little homes where ever they go, never letting anyone in. Whenever they feel danger they withdrawal and go into their shell for protection.
Over the years I fed and admired my little prized turtle as I would let it loose in the back yard, or in the house and I even took it to work with me as I watch it explore the world around it. I protected that little turtle because I cared about it; it was a special gift to me from my son that touched my heart. I feed it, held it, showed it to others and yet I knew that someday I would need to let it go. I always resisted releasing it because I was afraid that a wild animal would kill it, or a car would run over it. On occasion friends would even give me suggestions on when and where to release it so that it could go back to its natural habitat and perhaps find a mate and continue making more little turtles for Gods world to admire.
Last summer I decided to build a small fenced in an area in my back yard where I have a black plastic molded pond which I thought would be a neat area for my newly acquired Asian walker ducks! I checked the fence top to bottom for holes so nothing could get out including my little turtle. As I released him I watched him go into the world around him. He seemed so content as he found an area where he could soak up the sun as it beamed down on his back. Every morning and night I would go out and look for him as he would be in different areas walking around, seemingly happy, checking everything in its path.
Then one day, about a week later as I checked on him and I realized that he was gone! I looked everywhere in the yard, in the pond, under rocks and I told everyone what had happened. I felt a lump in my throat, I had lost my turtle, my little friend who I admired and loved to show to others. Then I saw an area where he decided to on his own to dig his way out under the fence that was actually meant to protect him. Gone Forever!!!
Children likewise are a gift from God much like the gift of the little turtle. God knows what brightens our lives and allows us these moments of joy, only to realize that someday we as parents must let go of our kids to go onto their own desires.
Then one day, our kids find a way to move on to explore the world around them and yet keeping in touch with us and hopefully holding firm to the standards that we have taught them from little up. I don’t really need to know for sure all the details of what happened to my little turtle as to which direction it went or if it had a hard life surviving, but I do know that I just wanted to be in its life and to see it grow. Whenever I feed the ducks I look for my turtle hoping that some day he will come home. I know that even though it was a brief joy in my life to admire, I still have a soft spot for those memories. Do I want another Turtle? No, not really, but I do have fond memories of the one I had and If it ever came home I would hold it once again close to my chest even though it would try to hide.