Playing on the Beach

small girl on the beach

I am a young girl playing on the beach. I run from shell to shell and dreg to dreg, washed up upon the shore, picking up one thing and then another.

Bending low, squatting on my haunches, the wet sand makes shiny rings around my feet. The receding waves suck at my footprints and smooth their edges.

I pick up a small, pointed piece of driftwood and use it to draw a pattern. The tip turns up small shells and tumbled glass, as I run its edge across the sand.

I make a circle all around me, reaching out wide enough to encompass a small turtle that surprises me upon the sand. I stop to pick it up and to deliver it to the lapping waves. It disappears with a quick splash and no backward glance.

Then I return to the circle in the sand and I see a dozen such turtles, scuttling toward the beach. I must have stumbled, accidentally, upon a turtle’s nest with hatchlings, just emerging.

A miracle of delight, I watch them make their way with young and gangly movements, drawn toward the sea as if by some mysterious hand … or, perhaps, it’s not ‘as if.’ Perhaps your mysterious hand is, indeed, drawing them thus. Each one makes its own path, encounters whatever obstacles are in its way, but all are drawn, eagerly, resolutely, inevitably to the sea.

What of the one I carried there? Does she wish that she had known the journey of the sand?

I watch them tumble and struggle and scramble for quite a while. At last the final ones have made it to the water and found their natural home. It is a lovely journey and it has just begun. Who knows what dangers will meet them in their new watery world. Yet they dive in with eager abandon.

And me? I return to my circle for a moment. Its water-ward edge is smudged with turtle tracks and I smile. It is not my circle, after all … or it is mine, but not mine alone.

Thank you for sharing it with me, mother turtle.

Thank you, Holy One, for the turtle tracks upon my soul.

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[cropped from photo by Sarah Horrigan per cc 2.0]

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