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The Faith Of Baby Sea Turtles

The Faith of Baby Sea Turtles

 O Lord our God, you have called us, the people of St. Philip’s, to be a public face of Christ.
Open our hearts and minds to the uniqueness and holiness of each person we meet.
May our lives and works lead others into the transformative love of Christ.
Inspire us with compassion and imagination to care for those in need.
Let the beauty of holiness shine in our lives, our worship, and this sacred space.
All this we ask in Jesus’ name, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.


Five years ago in our confirmation class Father Mike Marsh cited the courage of baby sea turtles hatching out on some beach then heading to the sea by the miracle of instinct. Understand: “Their mother was in them.”

What is a “call,” anyway? As in a call to arms? Or a call to love? Or a call to prayer? 

To me, the linchpin of our parish prayer is the line, “O Lord our God, you have called us….” 

In our coronavirus cloister mode, hunkering down over Easter, we were blessed by Scripture–Jesus’ words, “Peace be with you.” The incandescent Christ fresh from the holy place yet walking hospital halls with the “sting of death.” If the meaning of Jesus Christ means pay much attention to the positive, I’ve grappled with hope since Easter. “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of,” said Tennyson.

Prayer is the organ of our replenished life.

Public beaches emptied by pandemic ordinances were free of the “madding crowd” or morons on motor bikes. From Florida to Thailand new sea turtle nests meant wonderful but fragile marine wildlife was rebounding and thriving. 

Baby sea turtles lunging, flippering and floundering to reach the surf with dogged determination, bypassing the sordid, vexing particulars the world would foist onto them, remind me Christ was hatched from the tomb in the miracle of our summons. We go on floundering but make hungry, unconstrained progress in our wild abandon.

To love instinctually and with wild abandon…that’s the public face of Christ. 

To have compassion we need imagination to identify with others and “the sanctity of the human personality,” as the Romans called it.  

Our individuality is fragile yet we know in our “knower”—as Estelle DuBose says in her golden quote. We know where life lies. Baby sea turtles struggle up from a sand-choked nest yet hook it to the sea like pint-size gangbusters—just as they have done for 65,000,000 years. That’s what happens in the silence of a beach, nothing but the sound of the waves and a chance to pray.

In fact, the parish’s new graphics to “upgrade” St. Philip’s “public face”—ratcheted me up several notches privately. The StP” symbol is a gentle prod I use now like so:

St. Philip's IconStP (StayPositive)

StP (StayPeaceful)

 StP (StayPrayerful)                                                                                                                                                                                     

Such code reaches that sacred place of the subconscious, where the Holy Spirit awaits since time out of mind. 

-Cynthia Buchanan Cowley

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