The Way of the Turtle

Posted by on May 18, 2013 in Inspiration | 12 comments


by Christina Carson

boy and turtleI had an interesting experience on social media the other day. One episode of my serialized novel, Where it Began, rubbed someone the wrong way, hit them in a moment of frustration and provided the next best opportunity to rid themselves of a great deal of pent-up anger. One thing I enjoy about being older is that I am considerably more grounded than I was at that responder’s youthful age. I now have available a moment for reflection at such times, the one that in times past, I would have used to return bow shot for bow shot. In fact, in this particular explosion of a young man against religion, its rituals, its illogic and hypocrisy, I chuckled, caring, because my immediate flashback saw me in such a similar escapade at about that same age in my life.

I loathed religion then, not because its message bothered me, but because in that one area of life it seemed imperative to me that people walk their talk; yet people were so inept, and I was most unforgiving. I didn’t know then how hard it is not only to determine the truth but also live it. I didn’t know then that many people were trying, but were confounded by a message that had been seriously corrupted by politics, power and the toll that a whisper-down-the-lane transmission has on messages passed on in that fashion.

My church years ended for the next forty or so years, with a Sunday morning exchange with the pastor of the church in the small college town where I attended university. I still hoped this one might not disappoint. But the morning came when this minister, like all the others, said that baptism was essential for going to heaven. And my question arose once again about the fairness and loving-kindness of such a position. “You mean if you’re born where Christianity has not yet landed, you’re not welcome in heaven?”

The reply was terribly familiar, “That’s right.”

“You mean that if someone lives a good life, a prince among people and yet has not been baptized, he’ll be denied access?” (That was my then boyfriend’s situation.)

Again the stubborn stance of the church was restated, “Yes, that’s correct.”

And then it happened. I took a breath, glared into his eyes and said, in my cockiest manner, “That’s ridiculous, and that’s it. Good bye.”

I stomped down the remaining church stairs in search of a God that appeared to speak consistent with his message. Those next 40 years were quite the experience.

So fortunately this time, I didn’t reply in kind to the young man who was obviously in a similar state of disbelief as to a message that could have gotten so far afield from its original meaning. I merely said that he was entitled to whatever opinion he held, he just didn’t need to be rude.

I was touched when he wrote back, not because I wanted or needed an apology but because he didn’t run away, and even more touching, he returned to tell the truth of that moment, the exact behavior any savior, any sage, any Buddha would have lauded. In so doing, the connection between two disparate human beings was maintained; the integrity of the universe undisturbed.

The only true picture of our universe is one of the most elaborate displays of interconnectedness imaginable, and all it ever asks of us is to play within that paradigm, to recognize that oneness as the rule, and to enjoy the beauty of the encounters that result.


with gratitude for the wisdom of turtles:

The Turtle

…and you think of her patience, her fortitude,

her determination to complete

what she was born to do —

and then you realize a greater thing —

she doesn’t consider what she was born to do.

She’s only filled with an old blind wish.

It isn’t even hers but came to her

in the rain or the soft wind,

which is a gate through which her life keeps walking.

She can’t see herself apart from the rest of the world

or the world from what she must do every spring.

Crawling up the high hill,

luminous under the sand that has packed against her skin,

she doesn’t dream, she knows

she is part of the pond she lives in,

the tall trees are her children,

the birds that swim above her

are tied to her by an unbreakable string.

…and with further gratitude to Mary Oliver and her enormous talent as a poet and human being.


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  1. Lovely poem and I have been in that Godless place between mid-teens and mid thirties. I worshipped science at that time! Age is wonderful at tempering.

    • Christina Carson

      We were all children of that era, but I always hoped I’d live to see the marriage of physics and metaphysics for neither is complete without the other. Fun ti share this moment with you David. Thank you.

  2. I love how all this came back to the harmony of the One, and the poem is beautiful! Thanks you Christina!

    • Christina Carson

      It always does, doesn’t it. Lest we forget. Love having you stop by Beca. Thanks indeed.

  3. Lovely poem…and tolerance is a thing of beauty that alas comes to few people and generally does so after they’ve gained a lifetime of experience. Your priest was intolerant when he replied this way to you about the necessity for baptism and ultimately unchristian. Jesus Christ would never have replied in this way!

    • Christina Carson

      That was the great confusion of youth where the church was concerned. The message has indeed gotten confused. Thanks for stopping Claude. Always appreciated.

  4. Christina, I’m happy I dropped by here today. I’ve got flu and can hardly sit up but, like that turtle, I persevered. I never got that part either–how even tiny babies, whose only ‘crime’ was crying at night, wouldn’t go to that posh paradise the baptized get. That I get. To me, it’s all about love, making those connections, and growing together.

    • Christina Carson

      Even with the flu, your head and heart have got it right. My husband has often been heard to say that if Jesus could here how his message is being presented, he’d have a permanent dent in the middle of his forehead from banging his hand into it. Glad you stopped by. Hope you feel better soon.

  5. My version of your “baptism” story got me thrown out of both Christian Churches and the Hare krishna movement – well – not thrown – but resoundingly snubbed. At the evening darshan with the guru he talked about hell and those that were on the road there- basically anyone but “us”. I said that I knew a lot of really great buddhists, Christians, Muslims and Atheists that were surely bound for the Celestial Vrindavan, or whichever heaven they chose..” no no no”… I included Hindus to the Christian gentleman as well. So much ego, so little mind…

    • Christina Carson

      Phillip, a treat to have you stop by and add yet another daunting story of unenlightenment. My husband is totally convinced that Jesus had a large dent in the middle of his forehead from smacking it with the heel of his hand each time he heard another interpretation of what he’d said. But you said it all in your final sentence. We cannot know the truth from the limitations inherent in the egoic perspective.

      • But – is that the truth? Huh? Huh? ;))

        A pleasure Christine – thanks for reminding me to THINK!

        • Christina Carson

          I don’t think you take any reminding. That’s the fun of you.

Thoughtful comments are always welcome!


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