The monastery door was enticing…
wooden with glass panes
top to bottom, looking out into
a garden.
The tiny note from “Sr. Margaret”
taped near the doorknob
warned to re-lock. That,
and the small wooden bench—made of two
tree stumps and two boards— set against
a brick wall, facing a beautiful old tree,
were simple indications
that this quiet garden, with great,
old bushes,
is visited often.

I sat down on the bench
for a few peaceful moments
to restore myself
for more conference conversation.
I took in the sun, the air,
the tree, the greenest green—there
is more rain up here in northeast Kansas.
Eventually, I opened the newest book,
realizing I probably was too full to take in
even a sentence, and out of the corner of my eye,
I noticed something moving.

Ah! Turtle…headed right for me. I moved slowly
to get to the camera on my cell phone but
startled Turtle. It moved around me,
through grass way over its head,
to my other side. I sat still,
cell phone camera posed…

When Turtle came out from the grass
it walked up close, touched the toe
of my shoe. I was thrilled,
softly spoke my thanks, without moving. Could it be
a kiss? Is there something else I should know—or,
is this simply a close encounter with a curious (hungry?) turtle?
Seemed unusual.


I watched as Turtle moved slowly away;
watched a long time, as it plowed through
thick grass. And then I noticed something to my right
again. There was another turtle! I made no sudden moves
and this turtle moved undauntedly toward me,
touched the toes of my shoes twice
and moved around to the left side of my left foot,
where it found a cutout in the leather of my shoe
and softly touched its nose to the flesh of my foot.

Right then
first Turtle came out of the grass
and started walking the sidewalk toward me again. Two
turtles met right in front of me.


Being the human that I am,
with our tendency, writ large, to think “it’s all about
us,” yet honoring
that we can learn from other animals,
I wanted a message, insight, understanding
from the two turtles.

Next day, it dawned on me
that I might not be special at all. Following
a hunch, I asked two
of the Sisters of Charity who live at the convent
if members of their congregation often go to the garden,
might feed or hang out regularly
with the turtles. Ah, yes, they said,
entirely possible.

Simply then,
I am very glad to have opened
that enticing door,
grateful to have stepped into
an enchanted garden
of gracious, unseen, women
and gentle, unafraid, turtles.

And now, four days later,
having returned from
and processed more
of the Sisters of Earth conference
where I encountered two turtles—
Native American symbol
of the Earth—
I get it: Stay grounded
in Earth.
And again: Stay grounded
in Earth.