“Personal Photo of the lake at Wakendaw Lakes Subdivision)
One of the most famous lines from the popular television series of the eighties (The A-Team) was spoken by the lead character, Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith, played by George Peppard.
After his team would hunt down the “bad guys” with all kinds of complications, ups and downs, and near-death experiences….the A-Team would emerge victorious with hardly a hair split in the process. Colonel “Hannibal Smith” would smoke contentedly on his big cigar….sending a swirl of smoke out into the (coughing environment) and then, with a satisfied smile, say, ‘I love it when a plan comes together.”
I love it when the connection for a blog story does the same thing…comes together. Perhaps my story idea awakened after spending time with Jake feeding the ducks and geese, or memories of feeding the same water birds while visiting daddy’s cemetery after church on Sundays, or helping mom throw bread to the ducks at the Presbyterian Village pond after her stroke.
The catalyst behind the premise of the post arrived out of a poem “Wild Geese” (by Wendell Berry.) While reading the poem…a wave of memories flooded me.
Horseback on Sunday morning,
harvest over, we taste persimmon
and wild grape, sharp sweet
of summer’s end. In time’s maze
over fall fields, we name names
that went west from here, names
that rest on graves. We open
a persimmon seed to find the tree
that stands in promise,
pale, in the seed’s marrow.
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear,
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye
clear. What we need is here.
I feel that one of the greatest epiphanies we will ever experience is that moment when we look at our life in hindsight….and realize God gave us everything we needed to grow in His glory.
Disease, war, pestilence, strife, crime are all man-made, not God made. We chose, with free will, to destroy much of the earth’s food supply for areas where starvation exists today. It wasn’t that way in the beginning of time and if this old world had its priorities straight new technology could eradicate many of today’s problems.
Like the poet says….we only have to be “quiet in our heart” and look around us with eyes clear of mundane routine to see correctly the spirit of the land calling us. We can’t let greed continue to over-ride the purpose of our promise to Christ… to follow his last commandment:
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another
I have mentioned, once before, the time when my faith, not only faltered, but downright plummeted from my being, my soul. It had nothing to do with “little c”….but with mother’s last stroke.
Unless it was raining or we were gone away…mother took me and my two brothers every Sunday to the cemetery where my daddy’s body lay. Since we were just small children….quite honestly, we were more excited about feeding the ducks and geese that came flocking from a pond that encircled the cemetery than anything else. The innocence of childhood spared us our mother’s heartbreak lying close by..
We never forgot the bread. There was one little duck that was crippled and who couldn’t waddle over fast enough to get his fair share of our treats. So Ben would lead the pack away from the crippled duck…while David and I lured it in the opposite direction so the little duck could dine alone, without being pushed away by the others.
Mother always came over to see if we were successful in getting bread to the crippled duck and smiled when she saw it eating several slices all by itself.
Fast forward several decades….mother is suffering from the onset of dementia and six months after going into the Presbyterian Village suffers a stroke. It didn’t affect her left side…where her prosthesis was located….but the right side of her face, arm, and leg. In other words…mother now had to be fed by others….any last vintage of independence was gone.
I cried, screamed, and cursed God….how could a loving God do this to my mother after all she had endured….losing her husband at 31, her arm to bone cancer a year later, raising three small children, getting an MIA notice from the government about her oldest son, Ben during the Vietnam War, and then losing her youngest child, David, to side effects of Marfan’s Syndrome disease.
“Enough” I screamed at God….would it have hurt anything in the big picture of the universe for You to let the stroke affect the left side where the arm was already gone? I was filled with bitterness.
It was mother, whose faith never faltered, who showed me one day what true faith is. I had wheeled her out to the duck pond with some bread that she could no longer throw. Around three or four ducks came scrambling up the embankment looking for a hand-out. I tore the slices into small chunks while mother watched with great interest.
Suddenly, she made a strange sound and pushed her head to the left….her arms still immobile. I looked and there was a small duck dragging one webbed foot behind it….probably an unfortunate attack from a turtle. I realized what mother wanted….I pushed her wheelchair away from the other ducks… throwing their bread far to the right.
As I fed the injured duck….I turned around at mother and smiled…she smiled back…her eyes were lit up in happiness. Happiness! Oh me of little faith! Everything, it appeared, had been taken from mother except the only thing she needed and already possessed….unwavering faith.
For the first time I actually saw my mother’s spirit…not the shriveled up body of a woman I admired, loved, and called mother. It was the greatest lesson mother ever taught me.
So until tomorrow….The next time we feel inclined to complain about something we think we need…we then need to open our eyes and hearts to help and support God has available to us…we are not alone….we just need to clear our eyes to see the everyday miracles surrounding us. This pause to reconsider might even make us realize that our “need” is actually just a “want.”
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
*A new angel resides at Honey and Mike’s home on Pinnacle mountain….as lovely as the statue is (and it is) it still doesn’t compare in beauty to the two angels who reside inside… Honey and Mike.
* Does the sound of flock of geese flying overhead excite you? It does me. I especially like to see and hear them early in the morning off the deck or late in the afternoon. Their excited squawking sounds like an important announcement is being made. According to animal symbolisms….if one sees a flock of geese fly overhead…it means an imminent change is coming. Good or bad…is yet to be determined…but it’s coming.