Saturday, May 29, 2010

My Great Beech Tree Turtle God

This image is not altered. It's a natural creation on the side of a beech tree deep within the Lakeville Swamp Nature Sanctuary, a preserve of the Michigan Nature Association about eight miles north of Rochester.  To me it is clearly a swimming Loggerhead turtle, a carnivorous  marine species  that can easily weigh over 300 pounds. That's a lot of turtle.  I am very fond of Loggerheads.  I  have seen them lumbering ashore to lay eggs at night at Edisto Island, South Carolina just a few hundred yards from my tent.  The moment after I  saw my beech tree Loggerhead with a halo of sunlight illuminating the form - as I looked up to the sound of a nuthatch song - I thought of all the old news clips and newspaper photos I have seen of  strangely placed images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Those oddities are divine images for some people with deep religious beliefs. And they have seen these images in places that I would consider a bit weird, OK not a bit weird. In very, very weird places: a rusting water tower, a burnt piece of toast, freshly poured concrete, old concrete, a cooked fish stick, a cheeseburger, dried up pancake batter and even on a kit kat candy bar.  Who am I to say that those peculiar twirls and shapes (smudges to me) with dark spots that can be interpreted as eyes by the searching human minds of  believers who seek comfort and reassurance with "a sign" from God are not oddly placed divine signs.  Humans see what they want to see and believe what they want to believe. That is our nature even when it contradicts reason and science.  I am happy I clearly see my sea turtle on tree bark but do not look at is as any sort of sign: or maybe it's simply a nudge for me to head for the ocean.  Nature is unscripted and humans see things they long for and wish for.  Be it a loggerhead on tree bark, or the Virgin Mary on toast.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article!

May 30, 2010 at 6:44 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some social scientists say that humans are hard-wired to see patterns even if they don't "really" exist. It may have helped our primitive ancestors to survive. If you fail to see that a "pattern" in the jungle is actually a jaguar, you might end up dead. But if you see a figure in random patterns, no harm is done.

May 30, 2010 at 4:28 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see the great sea turtle.... It's swimming up the tree.... I must be hard wired too!!!

June 1, 2010 at 5:29 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article Jon. Proves the human mind sees what it wants to see!

June 2, 2010 at 6:56 PM 

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