The Turtles Sang

© 1994 Kurt Hunter

Good morning! My name’s Calvin the Alligator. I live here in Minnesota now, but I grew up in the swamps of Florida. This morning, I’d like to tell you a story that happened when I was a little alligator growing up.

I had a lot of fun growing up. I’d go swimming with my friends, like Chad the turtle. And I’d go fishing with my dad. Sometimes, I’d just find a nice rock or a log to climb up on and I’d just fall asleep in the sun. Those are the kind of things that I’d do most days, but on Sunday morning, all of the animals in that part of the swamp would get together under the old willow tree on the edge of the swamp and we’d have a little worship service. The alligators would all be there and the turtles and the frogs and the birds and well, everybody.

One of the older animals would usually talk to us about God and how God loves us and about all that we had to be thankful for. I sure had a lot to be thankful for. Then we’d usually sing. We’d sing songs to God to tell Him how much we loved Him and, I think, to remind us how much he loved us. Well, I always loved to sing. Most of the animals loved to sing too. Some of the birds, especially, were lovely singers and they took great pride in singing beautifully. The frogs were good singers too. They’d sing way down low. We alligators weren’t the best singers, but we weren’t too bad. Just about everybody would join in on the songs, except the turtles. They’d just sit there, quietly and politely, while the rest of us sang. I always felt kind of funny that the turtles weren’t singing, but I mostly didn’t think about it too much.

Well, one day, when I was out swimming with my friend, Chad the turtle, I decided to ask him why the turtles didn’t sing. And do you know what he told me? He told me that turtles were terrible singers. He told me that when turtles tried to sing, it came out more as noise than as singing. I wasn’t sure, if I believed him, that all turtles were terrible singers, but he was my friend, so I didn’t say anything.

Well, one Sunday, a badger from a forest near by came to talk to us. He was pretty old and he was pretty excited about all the things that he’d learned about God during his long life. In fact he was so excited, that he got us all excited too. We were all listening very carefully to every word he had to say. Then he got done and it was time to sing. I was so excited and so happy that I was singing a little bit happier than usual and maybe a little bit louder too. I thought some of the other animals were singing happier too, because our singing didn’t sound quite the same as it usually did.

I was looking around at all the other animals singing too and I saw something I’d never seen before. Chad was singing. I think he just got so excited that he forgot that turtles can’t sing and he sang anyway. And you know what, he wasn’t half bad. Or at least I didn’t think so. He was singing so happy that it really didn’t matter that he didn’t hit all the notes right. As amazing as that sounds, Chad’s mom started singing too, and then his dad and all his brothers and sisters. Before long all the turtles were singing and I don’t think we ever sounded better. It wasn’t just that the turtles turned out to be great singers either, because frankly they weren’t. Hearing the turtles sing with such joy, though, made some of the rest of the animals think about the words that they were singing and then they started singing better and happier too.

I asked Chad later, what it was that the badger had said that made him decide to sing. Well, the badger had told us that we were supposed to make a joyful noise to God. Chad figured that maybe he couldn’t sing, but he knew he could make noise and he knew he could make it joyful. Well, the old badger went back to the forest, but the swamp was never the same again, because from that day forward, the turtles sang.

Would you join me in a prayer?

Dear God, thank you for all the things that you’ve given us and for making us all different. Help us to remember that if we truly love you in our hearts the songs our mouths sing will sound beautiful to you because the song that you listen to is the song that comes from our hearts. Amen.