Birds of a Feather
by Chad Gurley
Many autumns ago when I was visiting my family in the little, rural Arkansan town in which I was raised, my sister and I decided to take a drive over to the "Central Park" of Blytheville, Walker Park, and sit beside the duck pond, talk, and relax. There were many times during our childhood that Mom would load us into our long, faux-wood sided station wagon, drive to that very spot and let us feed the ducks and geese some leftover, stale bread which Mom called "duckbread". (It actually wasn't until junior high school that a friend finally pointed out to my embarrassment that "duckbread" was not a real word for leftover, stale bread.)
Anyway, on this beautiful, warm, bright, autumn day, Tara and I arrived at the park and walked down to a bench sitting in the shade of a bright red leafed oak, looking out over the rippling, calm, green pond. As we sat and talked, listening to the gentle waves, we began to watch the different flocks of ducks and gaggles of geese that had made our little park their seasonal home. As children, neither of us had taken much notice of the many different families and types of aquatic birds there, and so that day, we began pointing them out to one another, trying to identify them.
There were mallards swimming together to our left, the males with their distinctive heads of a metallic green sheen beside the mottled brown females leading the way with little ducklings paddling close behind. On the one small mound of an island out in the middle of the water, small wood ducks sunned together on the short beach just outside the shade of the few island's trees, their blue colored wing patches vibrantly catching the light. Arriving from the sky to our right, a skein of large Canada geese in white chinstraps around their long, black necks touched down into the water with soft splashes and short calls to one another. And, among other similar flocks still, there was a group of white Embden geese fearlessly and noisily approaching some delighted, screaming children who held out pieces of "duckbread" before their wide-open bills, closely supervised by some adults, all on the opposite side of the pond.
"Birds of a feather," Tara began, and I finished, "flock together." Yes, there in nature, God's living creations seemed to fit together so perfectly, each group picturesque with its own species, family and type. And interestingly, the animalistic nature of humanity seems to be in accord as persons usually seem to gravitate towards groups of people with similarities: similar looks, ideas, finances, etc. But at that time back in my hometown, thinking about such groupings in relation to myself, I honestly didn't really know where in life I fit or even what feathers covered me. For so many years up to that point, I had felt alone and different, outside and ostracized. "You know, I guess I don't really fit in anywhere, Tara," I said, sadly, "There's really no flock to which I belong."
As if on cue, from behind a rock set back in a little cove of the pond, an American Black duck, about the size of a mallard, swam out onto the water. "Awww, there you are," Tara pointed, giggling. I smiled and watched as the duck floated alone out into the sunlight. Suddenly, right after him, another bird appeared from behind the rock, a large white goose wearing an odd voluminous, round afro of feathers atop her head, and there swimming alongside was a wood duck with bluish, crooked wings pointing straight to the sky rather than flat against his back. And then a little platinum, albino duck of an indistinguishable type joined them, closely followed a Canadian goose with a stunted, short black neck and a mallard with a discolored teal head and mandarin orange bill. Likely rejected by their own kind because of their oddities, these misfit water birds swam as their own flock into the sunlight, across the pond right in front of us, together.
Surprised, inspired and enlightened, I accepted the divine epiphany and turned to my sister with wide eyes full of new hope, "I was wrong; I DO belong to a flock somewhere. If these misfit birds have found one another and formed a family, I'm certain God must have a little flock out there for me." And sure enough, God has proven it to be true with all of the many different yous paddling across life's waters with me together, within God's Son's Light.
Are you feeling like a little lost duck? God has the perfect, unique flock for you too!
© 2009 Chad Gurley
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