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  • Writer's pictureCamp Goldston Publishing, LLC

Turtle Time

The Garden Spices editor has a way of planting seeds that sprout and reach out in unexpected directions for nourishment. As a result, I have been accused of obsessing about the word time- it’s connotations and creative interpretations. The word time just seems to jump out at me wherever I go. Now I am noticing any and every time-related sign or symbol.

Driving along a country road recently, there appeared a small hand-crafted sign that simply said, “Turtle Time”. I suggested to my husband that someone was probably trying to get people to slow down. Is that true-really? How intriguing! What else could it mean?

Internet searches for “turtle time” revealed that there actually are definitions and cross-references using those exact words. Hmm…could I be the only one uninformed? It’s time to change that!

Google shows Turtle time is used in numerous ways: 

– It seems that a TV series called The Real Housewives of New York used the term as code to meet at a certain bar to sip wine and relax with friends. 

-There are also several topic-related educational videos that teach kids how to distinguish different varieties of turtles. 

-One reference delineates specific beaches where turtle eggs incubate and how long to respectfully stay away so new turtles can be born. 

-One of my favorite discoveries was a website that uses the turtle time idea as a method of teaching kids to meditate when an upsetting situation occurs. It guides attention inside (like retracting into a turtle shell) until there is calmness. From a calm place then new insights and ideas can more easily emerge about how to peacefully deal with the situation. To me, that sounds good for all ages. 

Now the question beckons, “What is turtle time for me?” The opportunity for an answer just happened when a trip we were planning didn’t feel right for me. My husband took a friend and traveled anyway. Gratefully, that left me with a string of unscheduled days. A clear message within me instructed, “Go into silence”. Thus began my journey into Kairos- what the Greeks knew as timeless time. No talking for a full 36 hours was the self-challenge. No longer just researching, observing and speculating about turtle time- it was time to live in it. What did I learn?

First, the clock has no intrinsic value in a turtle time world. In fact, it needs no hands at all since things occur naturally there.

Secondly, it was hard not to notice that the sun and moon delight in defining day and night following no clock at all. This isn’t news but a strong reminder that linear time is really a human experience. 

Additionally, most human activities are determined by physical needs. Often these needs are rigidly scheduled and consume the vast majority of our waking hours. How much of what we do to sustain our basic physical existence is rote and relatively unconscious?

Body sustenance requires food. I found that the optimal time to eat is when a body actually feels pangs of hunger. If I happened to notice a clock that was past noon, my body immediately began to demand food. What?! It seems that the habit energy of eating may be strongly embodied without my consent. 

Turtle time offers a whole new way to enjoy food. What a luxury to chew each bite intentionally, savor the texture and notice each flavor. Choosing to cook only when necessary gives more time to experience nature either outdoors or indoors. Note to self: Fully take in the gorgeous coral colored Gerbera daisy on the table. Really see shapes, colors, number of petals and the perfect vase in which it rests. Wow! What a treat to be so present!

Did you know that nature can nurture body, mind, and spirit? It feels like this single daisy, upon being totally noticed, emits the sweet energy of simple love. Now I wonder what other aspects of the world at large may have eluded me. Out of space/time, one may ponder and wonder to the heart’s content.

Another ponderous discovery deserves mention- I was compelled to sleep at any moment that the body would declare tiredness or sleepiness. Perhaps not convenient but always very restful.

In every experience I was reminded that the human body functions best when restored by an abundance of rest, relaxation, fresh air, walks in nature, spring water, and the nutrition in high vibration whole foods. Sometimes these important things had previously been cast aside by my daily agendas, frequent planning, and other such structured timebound activities.

It was also quite the luxury for me to indulge in the slow paced activity of spiritual nourishment such as more frequent meditations, inspirational readings and wonderful online videos that espoused the great mysteries beyond kronos (linear) time.

I was especially touched by a video honoring the late John O’Donohue, an Irish poet, author and Hegelian philosopher who first inspired me with his book Anam Cara. If you wish to explore a brief adventure into his spirit, here’s the link:

O’Donohue had things to say about time too. The following is excerpted from his last earthly interview. It is simply titled Being and was conducted by Krista Tippett:

Mr. O’Donohue: …Meister Eckhart, whom I love, said, “So many people come to me asking how I should pray, how I should think, what I should do. And the whole time, they neglect the most important question, which is, how should I be?” And I think when you slow it down, then you find your rhythm. And when you come into rhythm, then you come into a different kind of time. Because you know the way, in this country, there are all the different zones — I think there are these zones within us, as well. There’s surface time, which is really a rapid-fire Ferrari time.

Krista Tippett: So I’m assuming you would suggest that more people need to create more space and stillness, but I think what you’re also saying is that simply by thinking differently about time, by approaching it differently, by putting on a new imagination, we can have a different sense of it. Is that right?

Mr. O’Donohue: That’s absolutely right because I think that if you take time not as a calendar product, but as actually the parent or mother of presence, then you see that in the world of spirit, time behaves differently, actually. 

 It is my fervent wish that you find your own way of being in the rhythm of turtle time. May you discover your own pace and bask in some delicious space. I open-heartedly offer my deep bow of sacred honor and respect to you and to your journey out of time whenever you choose to take steps in that direction. Every journey begins with just one step and the capacity to know when to take it.


Wanda Gail Campbell

Photo by Carol Zukosky

Wanda has served thirty plus years as a healthcare professional. Currently, she serves as a Minister of Peace ordained by The Beloved Community. In July, 2007 she completed her PhD in Philosophy focused on Intercultural Peacemaking. For her own spiritual nourishment, she enjoys reading both contemporary and ancient spiritual writings.

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