By Barb Arland-Fye
My husband was tidying up the front yard when he noticed something strange — two ducks loitering around a 3-foot-high pile of brush in the middle of “Fye Park.” That’s what we call the landscaped lot below our house, which we purchased from neighbors when they moved away. The lot maintains a view of the Mississippi River.
The ducks flew away and Steve didn’t think about them again until he planned to burn the brush. As he approached the brush pile, he noticed a carefully constructed recess that harbored four white duck eggs. After he told me about his discovery, we peeked into the duck’s nest and the sight filled me with wonder. Why did the mama duck choose Fye Park to build her nest, I asked Steve. She probably thought it was a safe, protected place for her babies, Steve said.
One of God’s greatest gifts to me is appreciation for the miracle of God’s creation, a gift I open daily while walking, bicycling or looking out the window of my home or office. Watching the sun rise on the horizon, seeing the sun dancing like diamonds on the river, hearing birds chatter, listening to a gentle rain and inhaling the fragrances of flowers and trees fill me with gratitude.
Steve and I pray the Liturgy of the Hours each morning and evening, which contains canticles and psalms of the awesomeness of God’s creation. “The heavens proclaim the glory of God and the firmament shows forth the work of his hands,” we pray from Psalm 19A. “At the end of the sky is the rising of the sun; to the furthest end of the sky is its course. There is nothing concealed from its burning heat.”
My prayers now include a petition asking for protection for the mama duck and her eggs. I visited the “nest” earlier today to check on the eggs. My heart sank for a moment when I did not see the eggs, just black and white speckled feathers. Did raccoons destroy the eggs and leave behind just the feathers? Suddenly, a mama duck, clearly angry with me, burst out of the nest and flew off toward the river. She had been sitting on her eggs and I interrupted bonding time with her preborn babies.
Back at the house, I told Steve the bad news. The mama duck flew away from the nest and those eggs were probably abandoned because of my interference. “She’ll come back,” Steve assured me.
Pope Francis wrote two inspiring prayers to conclude his encyclical letter, “Laudato Si” (“Praise Be to You, On Care for Our Common Home”). The prayers speak to me of the wonders of God’s creation. “Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature” (“A prayer for our earth”). “Father, we praise you with all your creatures. They came forth from your all-powerful hand; they are yours, filled with your presence and your tender love” (“A Christian prayer in union with creation”).
Praise be to you, God, for the mama duck who found refuge in Fye Park. Please protect her and her babies.
(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at firstname.lastname@example.org)