Amy Ezell

Director, ARUMC Center for Communication

Sequoyah UMC has 13 resident turtles that call this garden home.

This past week, I was able to have coffee with several clergy friends in the Northwest District. I was truly blessed by the presence of each person and was inspired by their stories of faith, hope, and mission.

One of the pastors that I visited with was Rev. Sara Pair of Sequoyah UMC in Fayetteville, and I was treated to a tour of the church grounds.

Throughout the years, this church has been blessed with additions, and I was so happy to see that they have left a beautiful green space between the buildings. It was obvious that a lot of care has gone into keeping this garden alive and well by weeds being pulled, flowers being watered (and labeled!), and an intention for preparing this place for respite and prayer.

As she guided me through the garden, I was not expecting Rev. Sara to say, “Watch where you step.”

I was pleasantly surprised to quickly see one of the 13 resident turtles that call this garden home and I must admit, this was one of the highlights of my trip to take the time to traipse around the garden looking for more.

The scripture verse from Psalm 104:24: “How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures,” came to mind as I reflected on this time spent in the mulch, on my hands and knees, looking for more turtles.

I realized that I experienced joy in such simplicity, and I hoped that the hands who tend these gardens and creatures understand that, for me and other leaders in our Conference during this horrific time, seeing joy is on the top of our “to-do” lists, but sometimes these days, joy doesn’t get crossed off.

Many may see this little story as “white noise” in our frenzied and turbulent world, but I just want to thank Sequoyah United Methodist Church for the turtle garden and Rev. Sara for allowing me to continue to search, even though it was pushing 100 degrees.

May we all seek some simple joy today in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Amen.