Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The parable of the ducklings

When I took the trash out this morning, there was a fire truck parked outside in the street, with the crew crouched around an open manhole cover by our building, peering in. Had some small child suffered a disaster, like Timmy down the well? Somebody dropped something potentially toxic down there? Was a valuable diamond ring missing from somebody's finger and fallen down the grate? Nope. None of the above. The cause, as is common in breeding season, were a couple of the local ducklings who had gone astray. Somehow they wandered away from their mama and either fell down a drainage grate, or possibly swam into the drainage pipe from the lake. We only know they're there when they swim under one of the open drainage grates and you can see a flash of yellow, or hear plaintive peeping wafting up through the grate. They're small enough to paddle through the pipes as long as their strength holds out, but they don't know how to get out of the maze, and there's not much, if any, food down there for them, nor good places for them to rest.  And mama duck can't get them out of trouble, even if she saw them fall in - she's far too big to fit through the pipe. All she can do is worry over her remaining brood and mourn the ones who are missing.

Who knows how long they've been swimming around down there... but somebody saw them and the fire crew came to try to pull them out before they could starve to death down there. Meanwhile, the ducklings were totally oblivious to their danger. All THEY saw was that somebody big and scary was trying to grab them, and they were swimming back down the pipe to 'safety'. The fire crew could have said 'it's just a bunch of ducks, it's a waste of our time, we've got REAL work to do' and gone away to do more important things. But they didn't. When the ducklings backed down the pipe and refused to be rescued, they sat back patiently and waited. Eventually the silly little ducklings swam back into view, and the fire crew gently grabbed them with a long looped pole to pull them out to safety. Even rescued, the ducklings are still oblivious to how very lucky they are... but they will live to swim another day, and hopefully grow up to be much older and wiser adult ducks.

How often are we those ducklings? We're so intent on what we're doing with our lives that we don't notice the pit in front of us until we've fallen in. Even then, we'll continue trying to climb our own way out when it's obviously impossible. It takes somebody else reaching out to save us... and it takes us having the courage to allow them to help. Otherwise we'll swim in circles in the darkness for the rest of our lives, wondering why we can't find the daylight. What is the pit in your life today? Are you swimming in the darkness? And to those who stand in lieu of the fire crew, may God give you the strength and courage to grab the right moment to help, and the patience to wait for it to occur. God doesn't want us swimming in the dark - there's a whole world of love and light waiting for us. All we have to do is to say yes. And when somebody older and wiser reaches out to you, take their hand and let them show you the way.

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