A story from the early legends of St. Francis tells of him having such care for all God’s creatures that he would stop to put earthworms back in the dirt when they strayed onto the roads after a rain. I’ve been doing this a lot during our rainy summer.
Then a few days ago I was driving to a doctor appointment and saw a box turtle crossing the road. I stopped the truck, got out and picked up the turtle, and put it on the floor of the passenger seat. As I’ve done since childhood, I immediately started making plans for a new pet. I discovered how determined this reptile was when it got out of a cloth bag at least three times in the doctor’s office.
I Googled Eastern Box Turtles while I waited for my prescription and discovered that keeping them in captivity can be quite challenging. While they can live 100 years in the wild (if they’re not hit by cars), their lifespan can be as short as three days in captivity. The color on their shells even fades.
By the time I got home, I wisely decided to carry it down to the marshy grass below my yard and let it go. I live near an extensive forest, so it should have the right conditions. I took some pictures and a quick video as it crawled off into the grass. I worry a bit about a raccoon or another predator finding it, but I know that, too, is the way of the wild. And I know for sure if it were in my yard my own dogs would be a much greater threat.
I love creatures of all kinds. But I’m finally learning that often they’re better off in the wild than in my solicitous but not always fully capable hands. I also recognized that right now I just didn’t need another creature depending on me for its life. I’m always a bit taken aback by Francis stipulating in his Rule that the friars weren’t to own a horse or any other animal. I’m not about to give up my dogs, but it does give me something to ponder.