turtle – a meditation



It was the spring before we moved again, a list of what
we must do on the refrigerator, when my daughter
and I found a turtle in the road.…

… At last I put my stick away
and left him to decide which direction was best.

If I forced him off the road he might return later.
My daughter and I stood awhile, considering him.
He was a traveler from the time of reptiles, a creature
who wore his house like a jacket. I don't know

if he survived his afternoon in the road; I am still
thinking of the way his eyes watched me go.
I can't forget his terrible legs, so determined
to take him somewhere, his tail which pointed
behind him at the dark spaces between the trees.

Faith Shearin — Turtle in the Road

I often think I know the right course of action for another person. In the program, I have learned that it is best to Live and Let Live. As the poem says, “if I forced off the road he might return later”. The author believes she understands his motivation, “because I didn't // want to move either; I was tired of going from one place // to another”. But, you know, when I believe I understand someone's inner thoughts and motivation, I often discover that I was wrong, and that the well-meaning advice I was about to give would have been wrong-headed. It is good that in Al-Anon, we share our own experience, strength, and hope, but we do not tell each other what to do.

A meditation for March 7, 2013.

Down to You – Bonnie Raitt


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