Ducklings and Deuteronomy

by Celia DeWoody

Getting back into my summertime routine of walking the trail around our downtown lake first thing in the morning makes me happy. As soon as I get up, I jump into comfy clothes and walking shoes, grab a cheese stick and a bottle of cold water, and head out – even before my first cup of coffee.

Walking by myself is usually a prayerful, meditative time for me. It’s an interlude in my life, an in-between time, when I can often hear the voice of the Holy Spirit whispering to me through the natural beauty around me.

Today, two mallard ducklings were my tiny teachers.

They walked out in front of me, following their bold mama across the sidewalk in a little feathery parade. Mama had apparently led them from the lake earlier and across the sidewalk into the grass to graze, but now it was time to head back home to the water. As I waited, Mama waddled quickly across the walk, followed by her two little guys, who lagged a little behind her. When Mom reached the top of the steep manmade rock embankment about two feet above the water, without even looking back at her babies behind her, she jumped off and half-flew right into the water. Obviously slightly distressed when she disappeared from their sight, the two little ones fluttered a little bit and hopped closer to the edge to peer over the little slope. I imagined their conversation as they scuttled:

“Where did Mama go?”

“She’s back in the water!”

“But these rocks are sharp, and it’s a long way to the water!”

“I scary of jumping off!”

“But we’ve got to get to where Mom is!”

They only hesitated a minute, then each one took the plunge – a big one for them – and splashed back into the water, then paddled as fast as they could to fall into line behind their serenely swimming mother. As I walked on past, they were already neatly back in line behind Mom, paddling busily to some new spot she had her mind set on.

As I walked on around the lake, it occurred to me that God goes before us, just like that mama duck went before her babies. We’re told, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 31:8 NIV) The mama duck went ahead, expecting her little ones to follow – and they did. They were scared – they were hesitant – they were fluttery – but they still jumped in after her.

All too often scared, hesitant, and fluttery myself, I’m afraid I often stop at the edge of the embankment, afraid to follow my leader, afraid to jump off into the lake and swim, and just stand there, frozen. I long to be brave enough to jump off. Maybe this blog will be one way I can splash into the lake this summer!