Monday, November 14, 2011

Make turtleboxes

Listen to this post:

 Make turtleboxes.

That's IT. That's what I am supposed to be doing right now.

Not running after new clients, proving I am worth hiring.

Not looking for a part-time job.

Not worrying about making money.

Not worrying about not having enough money.

Not lacking purpose.

Not feeling useless.

Not feeling powerless.

All of those things rob my energy and define me in negative ways that aren't me.

Funny thing is, making literal and metaphorical turtle boxes is all I really want to do. It's also what God is calling me to.

So simple, but it took awhile to get here. For various reasons, I suppose.

Me and my Turtleboxes (Autumn Barney photo)
In 2005, as I was finishing a research paper, I felt I needed something more special than a fancy report cover to wrap it in. That's when the idea of creating a turtle box hit. Right away, I could visualize what it would look like: a colorful, sacred art box housed inside a turtle shape. After all, the paper contained a collection of people's experiences of the Divine I felt honored to hear, hold and share. Making the first box, the "Mother," was magical. She was greeted with enthusiastic response at our next gathering, so I decided she would spawn 25 babies when I returned in the fall: one for each peer, teacher and elder. It was a dark summer, brightened by making the baby turtleboxes.

When I shared what I was doing within my Quaker Meeting (church), an artist F/friend disclosed her affinity for the turtle and how in Native-American lore (also in many Eastern cultures I have since discovered), the turtle represents Heaven/Divinity (the domed shell) and earth/humanity (the under belly). Of course, I thought, these boxes are the space where they meet and the right container for these stories.

I have been making them ever since, pausing at times, but never abandoning the idea. In fact, the book that has been forming from my spiritual journey the past 12 years now shares that moniker: Turtlebox Stories: Nurturing the Divine within. That's where I have been placing my energies the last year and a half. A month ago, I began facilitating a small group based on the idea of the turtlebox and the contents of my book. I realize I have the gifts and call to help others, along with myself, create our individual turtle boxes (the space we create for God to enter ... I do believe God is always available, it is we who are not). There is the place in each of us where God resides and we need to learn or remember how to locate it.

I had become stuck with my book, feeling that teaching it might provide new opening or insight. And, it has. I had a recent request for an actual turtle box I am honored to fulfill and it got me thinking that it's been awhile since I've made any and that, right now, is what truly makes me sing.

I don't let myself sing very often because I was told in junior high my voice was worthless. Unfortunately, I listened. I wouldn't even sing in church. But my babies came along and they were the only one listening, so I sang to them.

Yesterday, I did something very much outside of my comfort zone: I sang in my Quaker Meeting as worship. It was terrifying and I argued some with God that I had to tell people first that I was not a strong singer. She said: "Just sing and do it now. Don't stand up. Just sing."

Now She says to make turtle boxes and I have no choice but to listen and obey because my heart knows this it my deepest desire.

• What is something Spirit has made especially clear to me?
• How am I following that?
• How did I initially argue, object or not listen?
• What happens when I surrender?
• How does that make my heart feel?

I thought it was just
something I did for
a project

yes, I loved
every minute of
doing it

and I made more

they elicited
wonderful reactions

guess you could say
they brought joy

something so
seemingly insignificant
from my hands and heart

straight from God

and now She whispers
that is my work

the work for which
I have been searching for
so very long

for now,
I am just
resting in that

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