The Significance of Sea Turtles

I always sit in the front row in class. Perhaps it is my perfectionist tendencies kicking in. Perhaps it is because I get too distracted by the other students when I sit behind them {did she get a haircut? What is he eating? Are they together? He’s falling asleep!}. In any case, my propensity to always sit in the front few seats kept me from meeting my future husband for the first three weeks of classes, despite the fact that we were in the same small history course.

I remember very clearly the day I first set eyes on my future husband. I was sitting in Mr. McNeese’s history class, and I was rather enthused about it being the day we got to watch a video. I had a huge pink silk flower in my hair that I had recently purchased, and I was carefully tearing out a sheet of paper to take a page of notes that would earn me ten extra credit points. Class was just starting, when a muscular brown dude plopped in the chair next to me in the front row. I had no idea where he had come from. I assumed, rather naively, that he had just enrolled in the class, and I leaned over to tell him to take notes for extra credit. He smiled at me, and we proceeded to watch the movie.

I could not figure him out. Having been to New Zealand a few years before I begin to wonder if he was one of the Māori people of New Zealand. I was not too far off, since he was, in fact, a Tongan {from the Kingdom of Tonga, a country about a third of the distance between New Zealand, and Hawaii}. In any case, I tried to stop focusing on him, and start focusing on the information in front of me, and scribble down notes.

At one point in the video, some Native Americans were pulling a huge sea turtle out of the water, and into their canoe. And Maori Guy {as I called him in my head} turned to me, and said “That’s really good eating”, and I laughed. That was the first exchange of many that would someday lead us to become engaged.

Ever since those first few words were exchanged, sea turtles have held a very special place in our relationship. When I visited him, and his family, in Hawaii it was a sea turtle necklace, hand carved out of an elk’s horn that he gave me for my 22nd Birthday.

dandelionpie.com

And it was a sea turtle that we saw in the ocean when we were swimming.

A view from Maui.
A view from Maui.

For the past {almost} two years since that day, sea turtles have been a thread of meaning throughout our relationship. Sea turtles have become a motto in our own daily life. It was only recently that I begin digging into what other culture’s have associated with the symbol of the sea turtle.

According to Google the sea turtle symbolizes a lot of things: “The turtle symbolism is characterized by the association with the earth symbols of groundedness and patience: Ability to stay grounded, even in moments of disturbances and chaos. Slowing down, pacing yourself”

I can think of few things better than having a theme in a relationship of something that reminds me to be patient. Reminds me to stay  focused on the right things in the middle of chaos. To slow down. All of these things, and more are what I have learned by focusing on this theme in our relationship.

Do you have a theme or a motto for your own relationship? I would love to hear about it!

Comments

  1. Mary says

    Sea Turtles! How sweet! I love that you have a theme to describe your marriage. I’ll have to think about it for my marriage! Thanks for the thought-starter! I’m bookmarking this post 🙂

  2. Chirleen says

    I just had to read your post about sea turtles! I love the story… mine is a bit different but just as important. My son was conceived at the point in our marriage when we had finally accepted that we would never have children (biologically, at least). Finding out that I was pregnant was such a huge surprise and an enormous life changer! While I was pregnant, we decided to decorate his nursery with turtles. I had always loved turtles for some reason or another. We had no idea that this dream would end as abruptly as it started. The unthinkable happened: on April 17, 2012 our son Caleb was stillborn. Our hearts were shattered. But the turtle became a symbol of Caleb. Loved ones gifted me with all kinds of turtle related stuff, figurines, jewelry, etc. Now, we are the proud adoptive parents of a beautiful 8 month old girl. And we still see turtles everywhere. We encorporate them into our lives in many ways. Recently, we visited a sea turtle rehab facility in North Carolina and “adopted” a green sea turtle in memory of our son. Thank you for sharing your story! I loved reading it!!

    • Bethany Miller says

      Thank you so much for sharing a bit of your life with us, Chirleen! I am so sorry that you had to go through a miscarriage. I can only imagine how painful that must be. But how wonderful that the turtles can always remind you of Caleb, and give you hope for when you meet him again someday. I just love the name “Caleb”, it is one of my favorites. Congratulations on becoming adoptive parents! What a joy that must be! Your story has just touched me to the core, thank you so much for taking the time to share it with me. Best of luck to you, and enjoy that baby girl!

  3. elly stornebrink says

    Your second post led me to this one. I enjoy your writing so simply yet elegantly. I think it’s a beautiful gift to have a ‘theme’ though that doesn’t apply in my case. Love your sea turtle necklace: sweet! 🙂 <3

    • Bethany Miller says

      Thank you for the kind words, Elly. I love to have you here in my online living room! I really enjoy that necklace, too. It is so quirky, and goes with a lot of things. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Bethany Miller says

      You are such an encourager, Corinne! Thank you! I am not super into symbolism, but I thought the significance of this animal tied to its symbolism was just a neat thing. Thanks for stopping by! Blessings

  4. Amy says

    Beautifully written, Bethie, and a new blog theme, I just love it! Also the huge picture of the sea turtle–gorgeous! You are such a good story teller that even though I knew the story of your meeting Saia already, I had to read every word. Just perfect!

    • Bethany Miller says

      Thanks, Mom! I keep monkeying around with these blog themes, in the hopes of finding one that fits all my hopes, and dreams. So far that hope is to naught. Alas. Thanks for the comment!

  5. Sonia says

    “Bare Branches” is a phrase that means a lot to us; it’s even engraved on my wedding band! You would have to read A Severe Mercy to get the full meaning of it; but it’s a phrase that we use often to remind each other of our commitment, the quiet beauty of everyday life together, the joy that can be found in the dark winters of life… it’s a multi-faceted meaning that encompasses many of our shared loves and experiences.

    • Bethany Miller says

      I love “A Sever Mercy”. I read it in high school, and I think it may be time to read it again. That is so beautiful that you have it engraved upon your wedding band. What a very sweet motto for you two. You guys are just the neatest couple.

  6. Amy B says

    Love this, Bethany! And also the easy conversational tone you use. =)
    No theme for me but I enjoyed your story and the significance of turtles in your life. – the reminder to slow down in the midst of chaos and focus on the right things!
    Thanks!
    Amy

    • Bethany Miller says

      It is always good to remind oneself to slow down, isn’t it? Something about our crazy, hectic, and driven lives so often just drains our joy, and energy. Thanks for stopping by, Amy!

  7. Alexandria Ingham says

    I love that you have a theme. We don’t quite have a theme, but the first thing I ever said to my husband is something that comes up now and then. I was hanging upside down from a beam and said “I’m a bat.” He still says that just by doing that I made it clear I was fun and that’s what attracted me to him.

    • Bethany Miller says

      I just laughed when I read your story, about saying “I’m a bat”. Ha! What a wonderful, and quirky little narrative to begin your relationship upon. That is so neat that he recognized your value from that exchange. Thanks for sharing!

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