When I was visiting friends this weekend, Maggie wanted to show me the ducklings that had hatched on their roof a few weeks ago. Earlier this spring, a mother duck had made her way from the river into the neighborhood and found a nice puddle on top of their flat roof and had built her nest up there, nestled into the corner of the house. Beats me why a duck would choose a place so high up, but I think she must have been proud of herself.
Maggie took me upstairs to look out the window to see the ducklings. Sure enough, as soon as we peered out, six little ducklings scuttled their way out of a pile of leaves in the corner and waddled across the roof to their mother, who was calling them over.
"Oh, look! Look at them! Eeeehh! They are so cute! Oh, I want to hold one!" ....such were the feminine exclamations issuing from our mouths.
We squealed with delight about how cute they were, all clustered around mom, finding shade under her shadow and waddling across the roof staying close to her body. The seven of them were making their way across the roof slowly, as if out for a little stroll or to get some exercise. Then the mother duck began heading for the edge of the roof, and we said, "Uh oh! No mother duck! Don't get too close to the edge!"
Well, that was exactly where she was intending to go. She began testing some spots and peering down. When she'd found a good spot in her estimation, she hobbled over the ledge and flopped down to the ground. A feeling of dread overtook us at the sudden realization that instead of witnessing a cute little scene we might be in for a horror story. Were we to watch six ducklings now break their tiny necks, jumping 10 feet off the roof into the rock garden below? For they were so tiny yet with downy feathers and wobbly legs!
"What is she thinking?!" we exclaimed. "No, don't let the ducklings jump off!" we cried, feeling helpless.
Then sure enough, as we started to worry, one duckling scampered up on the ledge and took a dive. We gasped and ran downstairs and out the back door to see if it had survived the fall into the rock garden. It had! And the mother duck was exhorting them all to come down with a "Quack, quack, quack."
One by one, all the ducklings dropped down. Two of them landed on their backs, kicking their little legs, and we were worried they were hurt or perhaps couldn't roll over on their own. All the while, the mother duck just kept calling them. When at last even the two on their backs had flipped themselves over and were all on their feet, Maggie and I stopped our flailing and breathed sighs of relief and rejoiced! We said our goodbyes to the family that had started out on their roof: Mother Mary Bridget and her flock-lings, named Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Mary and Martha.
I was so thankful we had been there just at the right moment to observe this exodus from the roof and to wish farewell to the brave little ducklings who are headed for the water where they belong. I couldn't help think about the times when my faith is tested like that and I am tempted to respond in fear and flailing. "This can't be the right time! I'm not ready! What do you expect of me?" The jump seems impossible and frightening, yet the Lord, like a mother bird, keeps calling us, until I muster the nerve to finally let go, fall and trust. I couldn't do it without my brothers and sisters. I couldn't do it without the reassurance of faith that "mother knows best," that ultimately, we are meant for so much more, and the One who calls us is trustworthy.
"For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! plans to give you a future full of hope." (Jeremiah 29:11)
Fair thee well, ducklings!