One of my Sabbath activities today included an hour of walking through Great Meadows in Concord (MA). It’s one of my favorite destinations for exercise, reflection and prayer. Great Meadows is a National Wildlife Refuge, teeming with habitat…including a delightful diversity of birds, waterfowl (mallards and ducks), as well as deer, muskrats, red fox, raccoons, rabbits, beaver, squirrels, and a variety of other mammals, amphibians and reptiles. It’s a beautiful place for seasonal photography and bird-watching, with fabulous hiking around the water-drenched meadow adjacent to the Concord River.
Today as I entered the meadows I nearly stepped on a small, fist-sized turtle. Since I was moving at a clip I didn’t pay too much attention to his presence at the time. Instead, I kept walking, listening to my favorite Christian music on my iPod, and enjoying the sunshine of the afternoon as it glistened on every ounce of magnificence around me. Nearly an hour later, as I was on my way back to the car, I noticed that turtle in the same vicinity as before. This time I stopped to take a closer look at his color (dark black shell and red stripes along his neck and legs) and observe his sedentary place on the sandy walkway. I’m not sure how much he had moved since I first glanced his way, but certainly not too much…he must not have been in a rush.
I on the other hand had calculated my timing in the Meadow. I knew when I arrived how much time I had to walk, and be sure to get back to the car in time to get home and fulfill my family obligations for the remainder of the day.
Even though today was our Sabbath, I still found myself moving at a good pace, with several items to accomplish and activities to experience. Had my life been more like the turtle I’m confident I’d be much more content with fewer things on the list. Instead, I found myself all wrapped up in the muchness and moreness and manyness of life – even on a Sabbath afternoon. As a result, I missed attending to the richness of a quiet moment along the pathway, pondering the multiple gifts that surround me and the abundance of the spiritual life within.
I’m already looking forward to the next time I get over to Great Meadows. Perhaps I’ll take advantage of one of the lovely benches along the pathway…I’m sure they’re put there for a reason! Thanks, Mr. Turtle.