Monday, May 25, 2009

Even for a duck

After a long day of fun in the sun, playing ball, flying a kite and grilling out, we turned on to our quiet street, a load of happy sun-kissed people, worn and ready for baths and bed. But in the shade of a tall tree, we noticed two ducks sitting right on the street. We unloaded ourselves and crossed the tar, hoping to get the Mallard and his wife to stand and rush, inadvertently removing themselves from the real danger of a vehicle tire.

The male stood and led the way, drawing his lady to a nearby tree, hopping up and over the curb to reach a spot to hide behind the trunk. Then we saw it, the way she was walking, one leg flinching with the effort. She was injured, slow, tired. She didn't panic as birds do. She seemed unconcerned, no energy left to fight her fear.

So we said things like "Oh look, she's hurt." And we watched her limp slowly over the curb, struggling to lift herself.

My heart was breaking, even for a hurting bird, watching her pain and wishing I could end it. I was biting back tears and trying to answer all of the three year old questions coming my way. Her end was very near, I could see that. My controlling tendencies started to hop around in my head and heart. For a moment, I tried to think of a way to fix the situation. Then I started to think about what our pastor had said that morning, about the inevitable pain of life. He said it like it is, "Your life will never be void of suffering. Never. That's just LIFE." Then he talked about how it's not so much about the suffering itself, it's about whether or not we have the faith to believe in greater purposes. Do we truly believe that God does not just leave us in our pain, does not strike us down with ailments and death with a big stick, but that He takes all of it and works it together for good? That pain is an inevitable result not of God's will, but of a world that fell away from Him? That He will rescue us at times, and not at others, according to the very best bigger picture that only He can see? That kind of trust is terrifying.

It won't stop the pain, it will simply bring hope in place of despair.

Asher watched the duck so closely, without a sound for the longest time. Until suddenly, a guttural cry came from him, a heart-piercing and loud, "OOOOH, ooowie....OOOH." There was so much sadness in his sound, buried in layers of empathy. Our friend who was with us, watched him and let out a soft, "Wow." Yes. That boy knows pain. And so, he loves any creature deeply enough to feel theirs with them. I suppose that's what we're to do with all this suffering. Love, feel for each other, lifting the burden even just a little, in a moment on the street as we observe, feeling helpless.

Miles stepped closer, carefully inching his way toward the ducks like a curious moth to an intriguing flame, firing off questions about what happened, why is her leg like that, and did we run her over when we drove by? "No, honey. No. She was like this before we came along, we didn't do it." He thought about it for a while and then he said, "God doesn't like it that the duck is hurting."

No, I don't think God does like it even one bit. And knowing that He doesn't somehow lifts the fear of the inevitable suffering in our future. If He doesn't like pain, He groans as Asher did, because He too knows pain, and I know that when He cries out, something happens. Peace. Mercy. Grace. Love.

Asher's groans, my tears, and Miles' questions serve their purpose in reaching the ears of a God who I believe cares deeply. Our cries are love. He is love. Love even for a Mallard duck, limping on a quiet street. How much greater is our love for each other, all held together by His love for us? When we enter each other's pain, we're showing a level of trust that we may not have even known was there. And it's good.

20 comments:

mrs boo radley said...

His eye is on the sparrow...

Lovely post.

Sheryl said...

great post!

i am that duck and i must say that many people do not like to enter into another's pain. it seems easier to stand by and pretend you don't see it.

sorry for the cynicism. if anything, i hope these 2 years have taught me how to "enter in" with others.

Kristen@nosmallthing said...

It's true. There will always be pain and suffering. It is painful to watch others suffer. But from my own painful moments, I know that there ARE others that are willing to step in and provide a little bit of comfort...just enough to soften the pain. And that eases us along, eventually, out of that pain.

Steph @Red Clay Diaries said...

Fabulous. What a heartrending picture.

Em said...

You're raising two wonderful little men - just think of how their empathy can change the world, even if it's just their little corner of it?

Great job Mama. Oh so sorry about the duck.

Annette Lyon said...

"It won't stop the pain, it will simply bring hope in place of despair."

So profound.

Francesca said...

Dear Heather
this post touched me deeply. would you please let me post it to my Blog, with a link and obviously full acknowledgement that it is your work?
my reason for wanting to post it is to do with the fact that my dad (a non believer) is terminally ill with cancer (metastasises to lungs liver and bones) and i think that this post gives so much hope to us as a family.
Francesca
francescaquerci@HOTMAIL.COM

Peanut said...

Beautiful, Heather. Miles sure knows what he is talking about... and you have great insight and understanding.

Angie said...

I think I held my breath the whole time I read this post, then let it out with a wail. Your words are so true, so beautiful, and such a tribute to the hope our God brings us. You have brought that love into my life by your encouragement to me during my darkness.

Thank you.

Joanne@ Blessed... said...

So true Heather...pain has a purpose. Every single time it does. I believe it to be so, but don't always like it.

Great Post!

...just tell me one thing...where do you find the time to write and keep up so many blogs? Are you superhuman?

Mammatalk said...

So beautiful!

happygeek said...

Thank-you for this.
A lady from our church has had the week from HELL. She will bury her dad tomorrow and her husband Friday, both from extended illnesses. Her boys are one and three. I have been hurting so much for her and want to make it go away for her. I cannot. Thank-you for the thoughts on this. I am just simply looking for ways to hold her through this and make sense of it all.

Debbie said...

Oh Heather. You have such a great eye and a beautiful heart. And you are raising two incredible boys.

3 Bay B Chicks said...

The post was amazing...but I would expect nothing less from one of the greatest bloggers I have come across in the blogosphere.

I am troubled, though, Heather of the EO. I see that you have another Francesca in your tribe of followers. Is it true? Have you forsaken me for another?

I am having my own painful moment right now. Bear with me.

-Francesca

Jenn @ A Country Girl's Ramblings said...

Wonderful insight! Loved this post and thoughts your brought out in it.

minnesotamom said...

A good friend let me know today that they have been struggling with deep depression for years. I am trying to walk the line between what is appropriate (the friend is a guy) and what is loving, what Christ would want. This is a good reminder to me that He does want us to enter each other's pain, even if it is really, really hard.

Carrie said...

Ooh, I love this post, Heather. What a great reminder that He truly does work everything together for good.

mama-face said...

Oh, things like that are SO difficult for me to think about, let alone write about. The whole concept of being and feeling loved that way...

what a wonderful mommy you are!

charrette said...

Heather, this is beautiful. I love the way you juxtaposed all those hearts, all those responses to pain and suffering, into one fabulous post about God.

Eowyn said...

This is beautiful, and so true. Thank you for sharing.

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