Earth, Turtles and the Feast Day of St. Mark: Job: 12:7-8, 10
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you; The birds of the air and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. In Gods hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being.”
I just returned from South Florida, a place near Sebastian Inlet, on the eastern shores of the Atlantic, and one of my favorite beaches in the world. It is a wild and unkempt beach. There are no houses, as it is a nature preserve, and lots of land turtles and sea grapes, a wonderful bush that grows leaves that we used to serve salad on when I lived there 50 years ago. This is old Florida, a very old Florida at its best.
Here, the Atlantic is teeming with life, as is the shore. The water is green and blue with easily three- and four-foot waves, cresting in raucous white foam. The sounds are only gorgeous nature: the crashing of waves, the hawking of a gull. The sky reaches to forever; the billowing high clouds, pushed aside by only the sun. Only the silent munching on my ankles of tiny biting mites impacts this idyllic moment.
Best of all, however, is that this is a mothering ground for three different species of turtles: the Green, the Loggerhead, and the Hawksbill. These giant beasts, at least as far as turtles are concerned, live out their lives in a seagrass sea that is 25 miles out, coming in only to lay their eggs and then return to the sea, year after year.
We had our first loggerhead tracks this year, just seen three days ago. Each morning my old friend who I was staying with gets up and is on the beach for sunrise, looking for the tracks of a tremendous turtle dragging herself out of the ocean, up the beach to the shore line, sometimes making a decoy nest, so the raccoons will not find her precious clutch, and then just at dawn dragging her body back down the beach, finally reaching the ocean not to be seen for perhaps, another year. It is an exhaustive journey, and yet she is driven to do it. Which of course, is the point about Mark.
That fishing buddy of Jesus’s was a man who became committed like our turtles, to depositing his clutch, determined that his story of Jesus would live on forever and in doing so saving the world, just like the Loggerhead.
I’m so glad I’ve met them both: one through scripture and the other through this magnificent planet, Earth. Blessed Mark; blessed Earth Day.