Turtle Soup

We were an irrefutable Soul clump, a group of spiritual adventurers searching for a way to touch the hem of God. Every other month or so, we would gather from various New York State cities and towns to meet at a friend’s home on the Hudson River.

What was once a way station for passing cargo boats was now a romantic 200-year-old stone cottage situated immediately on the banks of the wide waterway. The back of the house was nestled into a wild, wooded area. It was a perfect setting for our long, esoteric discussions held over endless pots of mint tea and an occasional bottle of wine.

One fragrant spring morning, after a particularly elevating discourse, we decided to venture to a nearby town for lunch. We drove along a stretch of country road bordered on either side by tall grasses. Suzie, her pale blue eyes large and watery, called out that a tortoise had just emerged from the grasses on our right side. Following her pointing finger, we spotted it, bobbing head and all, slowly making its way across the gravelly edge of the road. Suzie was clearly distraught. It’ll get hit by a car! We gotta stop and do something! Please, let’s stop

Our spiritual conversations had put us in a loving-all-life mode. Of course, we would stop and help the tortoise. How could we do otherwise? Unfortunately, while our love and compassion may have been plentiful, our talk had not increased our wisdom by much. Our encounter with the creature would bring a startling realization into sharp focus for our little group of God-seekers.

There were six of us encircling the poor thing, its head now withdrawn into his shell and its body motionless. The resident intellectual in our group devised a plan. I think that two of us, er, one on each side, you know, lifting by the shell, should simply carry him across the road. Several people nodded. And someone needs to watch for any traffic that might come along. This will be a slow walk…he looks mighty heavy.

Do turtles bite? I had to ask, my practicality getting the best of me. My question was ignored; perhaps because no one knew the answer.

Just then, a red pickup truck pulled off the road a few yards ahead of where we stood. The driver opened his door, got out, slammed the door closed again and sauntered toward us. He flipped a cigarette into the grasses. My eyes followed the flight of the cigarette and then came back to the sun-wrinkled face under the green John Deere cap. I didn’t like the feel of this.

That your turtle? he inquired.

Some of us mumbled inane phrases like, Well, no…not really…it’s a wild turtle. Our chests were puffing up a bit with the thought of the good deed we were about to perform. Should we explain our do-good plan to the stranger?

There was no opportunity. He reached into our circle and grabbed our new friend by the tail, and in the wink of an eye, hurled the turtle into the back of his pickup. It made a sickening thud as it slid across the bottom and hit the inside wall of the truck bed. We were all too stunned to speak.

The man moved around to the driver’s side and opened his door. Thanks, thanks a lot, he called back at us, I just love turtle soup.

There we stood, six fools, still in a circle, heads down, eyes staring at the now vacant area at our feet. Suzie was the first to speak, If we’d left the turtle alone, the man probably would have driven right by it.

Yeah, I agreed. We were out here like a big road sign that read Fresh Turtle. The others nodded in agreement, and the turtle paid for our lesson with its life.

Copyright 2008 – Jo Leonard is a spiritual adventurer. Her passion in life is to share the knowledge she has gathered after a lifetime of searching for God. She has traveled the world presenting consciousness-provoking talks and workshops to other like-minded seekers.

A published author, her writings, both non-fiction and fiction alike, are spiritually insightful and inspiring. Her day jobs have run the gamut from professional actress to conference planner to operating a commercial printing company. Engaging fully in life has been the grist mill of her personal refinement. She currently lives in Occoquan, Virginia with her husband and two Siamese cats.

To learn more about her, visit jeleonard.com

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