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She nests upon a branch of my viburnum shrub. We wait with her.

This afternoon, the ducks are more than one mile from their pond-home, surrounded on three sides by the ranch homes of an extended family in my neighborhood. Everyone knows these ducks, evidently tamed for decades by the loving-kindness that surrounds them. Toddlers with their moms often stop and feed them. Opposite their fenced-enclosure, a faded yellow and black sign, “Duck Crossing,” alerts pedestrians and motorists, alike, to their presence.

Perhaps wearied by their trek, the ducks squat upon mounds of fresh grass moistened by misty rains; their two speckled companions, not photographed, are nearby, still exploring a puddle. The white duck, like a Joan of Arc, appears to lead the others on their jaunts. Then as abruptly as they began, they stop as other ducks swell the pond and mating takes off in earnest. And so it has been for the last fifteen years.

But yesterday, I heard the ducks outdid themselves, venturing onto a major thoroughfare, stopping traffic in four lanes until they waddled across, drawing quizzical smiles from most motorists.

Would that all peoples could be as free-spirited, as instinct-directed, as open-minded as our neighborhood ducks; even the black one with the limp participates fully with the others. Would that we could practice heart-acceptance, despite our differences and stop throwing around terms like, cancel culture that only feed the glaring divide among us.  

Perhaps learn to lighten up when spring waddles of ducks begin. Creator God would have it so.

It’s happening again: the blooming of the summer snowflake viburnum shrub outside my study window; its fresh pointed leaves give way to showy blossoms preening in the sunshine and attracting honey bees and occasional sparrows. 

From a distance, the swirls of whiteness suggest a frigid season long since passed. When we had planted the shrub, then about three feet tall, I wondered how many springs I would delight in its flowering. I would find out.

For six winters, I had shivered as drenching rains and ice storms pommeled the shrub, encrusting its lower branches within snow banks next to the house—Even found myself speaking words of encouragement to it, knowing I would have to be patient and wait. And the summer snowflake viburnum continued kept coming back, only taller, larger, and filled with more blossoms.

Like the summer snowflake viburnum, I wonder how many more growth cycles I must experience before going home. I feel ready but more winters could still lie ahead, and with them, even deeper learning.

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