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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.

Quack-quack-quack-quack-quack! There they go again, the mallard in the lead up the slope toward a neighbor’s front yard. Orange webbed feet list from side to side like tipsy seamen on leave. But perhaps these ducks are tipsy.

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Motorists stop as they meander across streets; joggers pause as the ducks sun on the creek bottom; mothers pushing strollers step aside; business men gawk as they parade down sidewalks, their quacks in lockstep with their careening.

It wasn’t always this way. For years we’ve followed their life cycle–spring migration, pre-nesting, nesting, brood rearing, post breeding, molting, and fall migration–all within the confines of the private pond in our neighborhood.

What to make of this anomaly disorienting our ducks, compelling them to leave their shaded refuge in favor of our streets? Perhaps harmful electromagnetic frequencies from the looming cell tower nearby, from our handheld computerized devices, from our hybrid cars, from power lines and transformers, to mention a few.

Lest I lose my orientation like the ducks and traverse barren paths inimical to my individuation, I must stay focused upon the next right step, thereby sacrificing the less than, however attractive. Such discernment works!

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