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Initially, I thought I was conducting a “research” project for School of the Spirit, a two-year Quaker program of spiritual-nurture ministry. God, however, had other plans. And, the project has become a process ... the sacred process of listening to the deepest heart stories of others, then recording them. I’ve also begun to share my own story, which I now know has been essential to my growth and understanding.

My Story 
Your Story
Stories “Straight
from the Heart”

The Box
Even when I didn’t know there was life for this beyond the paper, I “knew” the stories people were sharing were special. So special they warranted more than mere inclusion in a bland paper. As an artist, I envisioned a sacred box. The shape quickly became a turtle because of a story I had heard years earlier that never left me: a turtle's heart is so strong, it can survive three days on its own outside the body. I also liked the symbolism of the strong, beating heart (these stories of love) being protected by a tough, impenetrable shell.

I have since learned that in Eastern mythology the turtle symbolizes the bridge between heaven (the domed shell) and earth (the underbelly), which is so intune with the fact what's described in these stories is the union of humanity and divinity. In Native American lore, turtle symbolizes the primal mother (creativity).

My turtles (the original, 25 miniatures created for School of the Spirit classmates and teachers and one for my husband) are crafted from oval papier-mâché boxes, painted and adorned with treasures. They are, truly, a labor of love and one that fills me.

Read others' stories or submit your own.