If you’ve ever watched a newborn baby, you’ll know how it is, celebrating every movement with awe and glee.

“Ohh, look! He just moved his finger!”

As the baby grows, these gestures evolve to smiles, laughter, sounds and eventually roll-overs, crawls and walks. As for me, I know one day Jeb will ask in his newly deepened voice, “Mom, can I borrow the car?”

But for now he’s only eight and there’s been enough time between today and his first smile that I take most of his moves for granted. I don’t marvel at his tree climbs or rock hops. Though, together, the two of us have been sitting with rapt attention as we watch the simple blink of our turtle’s eye.

I know lately I’ve been a bit turtle obsessed. I’m letting myself be preoccupied, since it’s not every day that a turtle shows up in your yard. Perhaps one day all of Zelva’s minute movements will have lost their magic. It’ll be “of course” to know that there’s a turtle in a pool by the banana patch. Though I hope I don’t get used to it.

Because that’s just it. More than thoughts on everything turtle, what I love about this slow-moving testudine (nice, huh?) is that she brings me to the present moment where I begin to appreciate every nuance.

The woo-woo lover in me, ever-seeking magic in that thread I’m following, can play with the idea that Zelva comes as a gift from the mystics. For those following the Archives, you may recall that post from a few weeks ago, on the first day the Bohemian and I landed in CA. Not long after our 6am breakfast at the Omelet Parlor and the public bathrooms at Venice Beach, we sighted dolphins at sea and a graffiti Buddha on the wall. By 10:30am we were at Lake Shrine Temple, a sanctuary dedicated by Paramahansa Yogananda and home to the Self-Realization Fellowship. We were greeted by painted turtles that swam up to us at the dock, where we stood beneath the sign that read “Be still, and know that I am God.”

Was it a harbinger of things to come? That we would fly home, 3,000 miles over the Pacific Ocean, only to have a painted turtle come climbing over rocks and lawn to sit beneath our puakinikini tree?

Paramahansa Yogananda

Her presence evokes the same stillness I found that California day at Lake Shrine. Sloooowing down. She stills me. In this place, I take less for granted. Still find the awe in the dance of life’s movements. Flesh over bone, eyes under lids, breath filling lungs and wind in the leaves.

I can dream of a day when the whole world will opt to move at turtle speed, though it’s hard to imagine how.

For now, I’ll look to my turtle guru, Zelva. Try to bring awe into the everyday paces.

2 thoughts on “From the Mystics

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