I never see turtles. When we were in Naples, Florida for 3 weeks, Will saw turtles every time he drove down 1 specific road, unless he was with me. I never saw them. So, when I set out on the paddleboard from our campground on the Guadalupe River outside Seguin, Texas, I noted incredible turtle habitat on both sides of the river then laughed to myself that I was probably not going to see any.
My time on the paddleboard is some of my only true alone time. You cannot find other things to do while you are paddling, it is just you, the oar, and the paddleboard. I cannot get the computer out to work or busy myself with tidying up the camper. It is just me and my thoughts. It is also time when I focus on prayer.
On this specific day, I prayed for a few minutes, then realized that me talking was not what I needed. I needed to be listening. So, that is what I did. And not moments later, there were turtles on literally every log in the water. It was not just 1 or 2 here and there, there were a half dozen on some logs. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced. As I continued up the river, I saw turtles everywhere. Obviously, now I was really listening.
The Guadalupe River is a funny river. Our campsite was less than 20 feet from the bank, so we spent a lot of time enjoying the river and watching it. Yet, even after a couple of days, we were really not sure which way it flowed. The current is very slow, and you could only really see it moving if the wind was absolutely still. Otherwise, it looked like it was flowing the opposite direction. Therefore, both times I was out on the paddleboard during our visit, it was a continuous paddle. Riding with the wind was easier than riding with the current.
So, I continued paddling up river, I lost myself in the movements of paddling and in watching the turtles and listening to the birds. When I looked at my watch, I realized it was almost to the time that I told Will I would be home and I had not yet turned around to start heading back. I hurriedly sat down, ate my snack and had some water, and sent him a text letting him know I was finally turning back and would be later than anticipated.
As I turned around, I continued to marvel at the turtles, when suddenly, a little turtle head surfaced not 3 feet from the front of the paddleboard. I made some quick moves to the right, while it made quick moves to the left, and we managed not to collide, but now I was really wondering what God was trying to tell me.
Even though I was fighting against the wind and trying to make good time getting back to the camper, I sat down again, pulled out my phone, and looked up what turtles symbolize.
In my brief research, I learned that turtles are symbols of wisdom, of slowing down, and of enjoying the journey. The turtle has no time for worries as it goes with the flow of life. It is a vulnerable creature even with its hard, unbreakable shell. In other words, there was a reason I was seeing these little fellas.
We have been talking a lot about where the road is taking us, both on our incredible journey and beyond. I have worried and I have prayed. And that morning on the water, I prayed for guidance, for direction. While I did not step off the paddleboard with a sense of where we are supposed to be going, I stepped off with a greater appreciation for the journey we are on. Living in the here and now. Not worrying about where we will be this summer, not worrying about where we might eventually settle down, not worrying about the timeline for the pieces to fall into place. Instead trusting that we are exactly where we are supposed to be.
As I pulled up along the camper, I truly could not believe what I had experienced, yet I had a sense of peace and understanding about our journey and the future that I had not felt in a long time. When I took the paddleboard out again a few days later, sure I saw some turtles, but they were fewer and farther between, and yet I was still listening.