The indentation in the sand is small, circular, rough-edged, unremarkable. The kind of thing you’d walk by without a glance in a place littered with shells, where dolphins jump the waves, and sandpipers hunt tiny clams along the shore. The top of this turtle nest is almost invisible, as it’s meant to be. I’ve come to Florida with two friends who are in a mastermind group with me. The place where we’re spending the week is home to over a thousand turtle nests like the one we’re staring at right now.
The nest is marked off with thin wooden stakes that hold important information. A local with wrinkles across her face like lines in a love story with the sun told us how to read the numbers. The top one is the day in the season on which the eggs were laid, a mother turtle dragging herself out of the ocean, leaving her young beneath a pile of sand. According to that number, this nest should hatch tonight.
The top of the nest rolls like a boiling pot and we watch as one tiny head emerges. This process will repeat for two hours as the tiny turtles push up toward the surface. The only way out of this nest is in community. The turtles will push each other upward, stand on each other’s backs, and combine the incremental effort of their tiny fins to push away the sand. There is no solo trek out of this nest, no option for doing it alone. It’s a combined effort, all for one and one for all.
I look at my friends during this process. We’ve been in a mastermind group for years. We’ve helped each other write books, launch businesses, overcome obstacles, not quit on the days we feel discouraged, and remember who we are when other voices in our lives tell us to stop dreaming. Where would we be today without each other?
Our mastermind is simple: Meet once a month and each person gets about an hour to process whatever she would like. That’s it — no fancy agenda or formal questions. Just show up, share, and listen. Over and over again.
More heads appear in the nest. Then suddenly one turtle breaks free. The others follow, climbing the sides of the nest, scattering across the sand, marching toward the ocean. They follow each other toward what they know already in their fragile turtle bones is home.
Isn’t this what we’re all doing too? Helping each other move toward home, the place where we belong? Home to who we’re truly created to be. Home to what we’re called to do. Home to heaven one day, the place with the crystal sea and the Savior who once walked on water.
The waves reach out to welcome the turtles and they are swept into the saltwater. We lose sight of them as they disappear into the night.
I turn toward my friends. “That was amazing!” we say to each other. It’s not the first time we’ve uttered those words. We’ve said it when one of us had a victory, made it through a hard time, did what once felt impossible.
Sometimes when I talk about community like this, people assume it comes easily to me. But I scored 96% introvert on the last quiz I took, I’ve been diagnosed with social anxiety, and just ordering a pizza on the phone makes me nervous. It’s not easy or comfortable for me to reach out to others, it never has been and it likely will never be.
I’ve found when it comes to connection, it’s about feeling the fear and doing it anyway. It’s about surrendering my desire to be sought out and instead showing up as a person who is a safe space for others to become who they were created to be. Will it be awkward? Absolutely. Will it be harder than I thought? Always. Will it be worth it anyway? Yep.
I look at the vast ocean and wonder where each turtle will end up, what their stories will be.
I look at my friends and wonder the same.
I don’t know, but what I’m grateful for and certain of in this moment is that we won’t do it alone.