Turtle and a Beer Can

(just some random musings about the potential of all things) 

I went for a walk around my neighborhood, and I am privileged to live near a park that has a small man-made pond/lake in it.  It’s a circular pond, with a fountain in the center.

I didn’t originally plan to go there, but I glimpsed the pond as I was walking, and I felt a thirst… a longing to be near the water.  I realized that it had been a long time since I had been in or near a large body of water, and they are often a source of personal nourishment for me.

As I walked across the 195 bridge, I felt the sun beating down and it seemed get noticeably hotter as I went… hotter and hotter.  I felt like dry bones cracking, like dry skin withering, on my way to the water.

I walked to the edge of the pond and sat down, I was tempted to jump right in, but the water was very dirty.  You could only see the debris in the water when looking at the waves closest to you, you could not perceive it while looking at the lake as a whole.  As a whole, it was beautiful, deep, and alive.  The wind was hovering over the water, and bringing me cooled newness of mind.

I immediately saw a large turtle floating in front of me.  He was beautiful, green with streaks of red on either side of his face.  He kept his head above water, and I wondered how long he could swim without getting tired and needing to lie down on something solid.

I then noticed something terribly ugly, disrupting my beautiful prayer time.  It was a long Budweiser can, floating in the water towards the edge, bobbing along and often bumping against the side with a horrible clinking sound.  The illustration on this beer can was stylized with an American flag that wrapped all the way around, and with the Budweiser logo on top.  This was not surprising to me, and I imagined that the dirty can was America itself.  It was proud and decorated, but was completely unaware that it was a tiny weightless can, moved at the mercy of the waves upon a pond.  The can might not even know that the water is out there, yet it might perceive itself to be the master and controller of the world.

Then I saw the turtle emerge again.  This turtle was the opposite image.  It was in the water, moving through the water.  The same waves met the sad can and the lovely turtle, but one rocked uncontrollably and without awareness, while the other cooperated with the water and was completely aware.

Then I began to think of the water as the Holy Spirit, and the reactions of America in all its intelligence, and the turtle in all its “ignorance”.  There is a way of living where you are unaware of the greater factors of existence, and you live a reactionary life with false ideas about power (like the can).  There could be another way, like the turtle, where you participate in the greater factors of existence, and live a cooperative life, where you seemingly move the immovable, and where you reside primarily in a depth unknown.

It did occur to me that since the can has a hole in it, there must be splashes of water that come in from time to time; however, because of the structure of the can, it cannot hold too much at one time and stay afloat.  This concept of there always being only a small amount of water seems to fit into my perception, as many Western churches will assume that they have a monopoly on water, or that water simply does not exist in other parts of the world.  Also, they assume that the water they have is the same water that was passed on by their forefathers, so that the water in the can has never changed.

I then looked out over the breadth of the lake and noticed many flashes of light.  There were waves and ripples all over the lake, but only a small percentage of the highest peaks of water would catch the sunlight.  Therefore, out of the entirety of the lake, both its mysterious depth and its constant surface motion, only a miniscule amount of the water flashed miraculously to the human eye.  I feel that this must be like the workings of the Holy Spirit.  We long for signs and miracles, and they do emerge here and there, but those are only the visible peaks of a miniscule percentage of the life of the Spirit.   There are infinitely more waves and peaks that are always presence, and that we do not recognize as miraculous when we see them, and an even greater mysterious depth lies below that is beyond comprehension.

In this particular lake, the source of the waves is a large fountain in the middle (and probably wind, but I’m not counting that right now).  The fountain has two parts, one large plume of central water, and a row of smaller jets in a circle around it.  It occurred to me that the fountain could be the relationship of the Father to the Son, and that this is the source of all of the waves.  The waves aren’t simply an arm or an extension; they go on to exist separately from the fountain, though it is all made of water.

After a time of prayer and listening, I saw the can again, but this time I loved it, and saw it as lovely, and heard the clinking sound as beautiful.  And again I saw the turtle’s head above water, now from far away, and I felt like the turtle and I shared a grand understanding.


I see you floating on a wave you won’t acknowledge

And you think that you’re moving on your own accord

And then you’re tossed on this sea below you

And when you feel rocked then it’s someone else’s fault

Maybe it’s God’s fault


But in the water is a face just coming up above the surface

Staying in place in the midst of those waves

And he is participating in an ebb and flow

Of the fabric of the tide that weaves and unravels our lives


He is diving into the mysterious deep

He is cooperating with the richness of the lake

While the riders on the wave refuse to look outside

They think the splash of water in the can

In the only water in the world

And they think aluminum is the only way they’ll survive


But on the water are countless ripples and waves

And only the highest peaks reflect the sun’s rays

And look miraculous to the naked eye

While 100,000 other miracles beside them don’t shine


Not to mention the sinking silent deep

Thicker than the dimensions of the Earth

An ever-present and endless vertical sea

And nothing that we would ever imagine

And better than we would ever imagine

And present inside our private canister of belief


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