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This One continues to teach me the ways of home. Those of you who have been with me on this journey for some time now will know this, as I wear this piece next to my heart (my own version perhaps of ‘home is where the heart is’) and have written often over these years of Turtle and her gentle guidance to me. (a quick search of the word ‘turtle’ on my weblog brought up 18 entries in which she is mentioned ). This one is familiar, familiar as home, so to speak, steadfast and constant.

On some level I suppose one’s entire life journey, including the slow, incremental steps we take within each moment from sunrise to sunset, is a continual homecoming. What do I mean by homecoming? Well….coming home, home to oneself and home to love.

To me, home is a place of deep comfort, where the clothes that I don to cover and protect can be stripped and discarded, along with the fears, shames and vulnerabilities that I am safeguarding with them. So, home is a place of shelter and safety, where who I am is welcome to be out and about, naked, so to speak, without fear of judgment.

Home is a lot like Love.

Some may see Turtle as shell alone, the surface only of her hard protective and sheltering layer, and miss the fullness of understanding her as a messenger of Home, and for quite some time She did indeed teach me in this way how to withdraw and hide to survive. During that hard time she safeguarded my tenderness and I am grateful for that, for I did not become hardened by life.

As the years passed, though, and She continued to instruct me, I learned that she wanted me to also learn how to carry my home with me.  I began to understand the shell, not as a hardness but, as a capacity. The home that I could withdraw into for safety and deep comfort, which enabled me to lay aside my shame and fears, was always with me. I alone carried that capacity, the spaciousness of that shell, and She reminded me to carry it with me.

Remember, Home is a lot like Love?

She began to teach me how to ‘take myself along’, how to trust in myself and my goodness. You know, the way you can feel as if you leave your best Self behind … your kind self, for instance, or the part of you that knows that all is well, or that Love is here and you are included in it’s embrace. Turtle teaches integrity, how to keep all of your parts present, how to live from that place of self containment, how to be true to oneself, the way that one can when one feels at home in one’s skin.

These last few years especially, the presence of water has been so potent in my life– thus, the mermaid, the canoe, the lakes, the beaver, and even the swimming pool– that Water was almost the image I chose for Home.  Perhaps this also has something to do with homecoming, a return to the safety and comfort of the womb. I think we do become safer with ourselves as we age, more able to be who we are without fear of judgment or fear of not-enoughness,  rather like a return to the womb where our knowledge of the world’s harshnesses are unknown and a purity of being is all that there is.  For many turtles, this return to the water is a natural part of their life cycle, a homecoming of sorts, too. I can feel that in my body when I enter the water – heaviness lifts, grace returns, freedom and flow and play emerge– each of these also belong to the feeling space of home for me… and so Turtle continues to teach me the ways of Homecoming.

I have read that if a young turtle makes it past those treacherous first years, there is little that can do it harm. This is how they grow to be so old and witness much, joining the other slow ancient ones.. gnarled old trees or weather worn boulders or plush mats of moss  … in revealing the wisdom of time in this place we call Home.

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M.C. Reardon

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