Life with Lulu

My tortoise and I have a reciprocal relationship: I provide her with the foods of her choice (green and red lettuce, bananas, other fruit when available), make sure she's warm at night, clean her box, and put her in the yard during the day. And she teaches me about God.

It's not just the exquisite design of her reptile body. Although that is a wonder in itself. Her shell is a variegated brown, to help her blend in with most vegetation. The top of it is segmented in raised mounds which could easily be mistaken for stones. The edges are scalloped and veined, in a perfect imitation of dried leaves. So God has equipped this most vulnerable of creatures with a wonderful disguise.

When she retreats into her shell, as she does at the slightest hint of threat, only her head is vulnerable. So she instinctively wedges herself head-first against vertical surfaces such as walls or fences for protection. She can happily remain like this for hours or days.

But it's the relationship itself that teaches me the most. I provide Lulu with everything she needs. And in return she can do absolutely nothing for me. She'll never be good for eating. She won't provide wool or milk. She won't grow up and go to college so she can support me in my old age. In fact, the older she gets the more of a nuisance she'll be. Right now I can lift her with one hand—barely. What will I do when she weighs 150 pounds? We'll have to see.

You can't have much of a friendship with a tortoise. They're not cuddly. You could probably teach her tricks—if you had years of spare time.

But against all odds, I've developed a genuine affection for this phlegmatic, unattractive, unresponsive, burdensome creature. And that is the lesson about God.


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