Saturday, April 18, 2009

Once in a Lifetime

God has blessed me in many ways, but He has given me a special glimpse of His wisdom and grace this week. Work took me away from my family, the farthest I've ever been from home. I miss them very much and call every chance I get. Work is a good distraction, but the evenings are difficult. I'm really looking forward to being home again.

For the last two nights, I've had the opportunity to go down to the beach where I'm staying and see an amazing animal. I missed the main nesting season, but the Green Sea Turtle mothers are still coming on the beach at night to lay their eggs, and some babies are still hatching. Last night I saw two mama turtles and over 20 babies. Tonight I saw more adults and a few babies, and got a chance to watch as one dug a hole in the sand and laid her eggs.

I suppose you have to be patient to be a sea turtle. In the middle of a 2,500 mile journey to her birthplace, the gentle plant eater takes a couple of hours to fight against the undertow, pull herself slowly up the beach above the tide line, then dig a 18" deep hole, lay her eggs, and then return to the sea. (You certainly have to be patient to watch them!) She dug the hole with her back flippers, dipping them one at a time into the hole, cupping the sand like you would in your hand, then dropping it. Before using that flipper again, she would fling the sand away, and then drop her flipper back into the hole. At the end, she was really stretching to get the hole as deep as she could. The eggs went in so fast, all we heard was a small noise, and then she was turning around , covering the hole as she went. This three foot turtle then went slowly and directly back to the sea, where she disappeared in a wave.

Last night I followed a tiny baby (about the size of the palm of my hand) on its journey to the sea. Our footprints in the sand were ravines to this little lesson in persistence. His journey began probably 3 or 4 days ago when he hatched under those 18 inches of sand. Along with his brothers and sisters, he had to dig up out of the sand and then crawl out of the 2 foot deep nest. Getting out of the nest was like crawling on your belly from the bottom of a quarry. Up and down and around, he kept heading for the light of the sea - I probably followed him for 30 minutes (who knows how far he had already come!). A wave came up over the baby, and then he was gone. Only one out of a thousand live to adulthood, but he never gave up.

Thank you, Lord, for the lessons of patience and persistence, and for getting a glimpse of your Glory in your Creation. I will never forget it.

Me with a Mama green turtle.

Two baby turtles on their way to the sea.

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