Friday, January 3, 2014

A Boy, A Duck and a Prayer

This story took place in 1995. It was published in Guidepost Magazine and in Amazing Grace for the Catholic Heart and has received more acclaim than anything I've ever written

     “Dad, can I just peek inside?” our ten-year-old son Luke asked, holding a cardboard box.
     “Wait until we get home,” my husband, Mark, answered.
     This was a day Luke had dreamed of for weeks.  Finally, ducks!  We had moved out into the country two months earlier.  Even though we had dogs, cats and assortment reptiles and amphibians, Luke was impatient for some kind of farm animal.  His five brothers and sisters were mildly interested in the ducklings, but not like Luke was.  He was the one who had pleaded mercilessly for them.
     Even though Luke had begged us for the ducks, it was the grasshoppers that clinched it.  There was a serious invasion of them that summer of 1996, inflicting major damage on Mark’s first country garden. “They eat grasshoppers?” Mark had asked with sudden interest.  That’s when Luke knew his dad would relent.

     Luke barely waited until the engine turned off before he bounced out of the car with his box.  As if unwrapping a preciou8s treasure, Luke gingerly lifted the lid.  Once by one, the ducklings jumped out into a blinding August sun. Never content just to watch critters, he cornered and scooped up the ducklings one by one.  As he held them securely and talked softly, each one relaxed in this hand until he slowly put it down and lifted another.

     “I’m going to name this one Quacks,” Luke decided, holding the littlest one.  As Quacks calmed down, Luke held him gently against his chest and stroked his fluffy down.

     The remainder of the day was spent with my kids and neighbors coming in and out of the yard to watch the peeping little flock.  Luke never left the brood except to each dinner.  Throughout the day he herded them in and out of Mark’s garden for several periods of grasshopper patrol.

     As the sun began to set, Luke steered his ducklings into the garden for one last snack.  When he attempted to return the flock to their pen, however, he accidentally stepped into their huddle and scattered them.  The other ducks drew back together but Quacks ran off.  Luke hurriedly got the flock into the pen and then chased Quacks where he had scampered behind a storage chest in the garage.

     “Good, I’ve got him cornered,” Luke thought.  When he moved the chest aside, he heard little peeps but Quacks was nowhere in sight.  Taking a closer look, Luke gasped.  Quacks had fallen down a small drainage pipe.  The opening was golf-ball sized.  Luke ran into the house for a flashlight.  The deep hole only swallowed up his light.  Stricken, he walked into the house to find me.

     “Mom, something bad has happened,” Luke said.  He explained the situation.  “Is there anything we can do?” he asked doubtfully.

     I went with him to the hole.  “I can’t think of anything,” I told him helplessly.

     “That’s what I thought,” he said and sadly turned to the house.  “And he was my favorite one too—Quacks.”  The day, which had started with such promise, had turned sour.  Bedtime was quiet except for the heartbreaking peeps that drifted into my second-floor bedroom from the garage underneath.

     There were still eleven duckling left but the little lost one broke our hearts.  The parable of the Good Shepherd suddenly took on a new relevance.  Quack’s frantic cries continued through the night. When I awoke to his peeps early the next morning, I wondered how long before lack of food and water would finally quiet him.

     “Food,” I thought.  “That’s it!”  Luke, the first one up, was just coming out of his room.  “Luke,” I whispered,” I have an idea.  What if you used a piece of fishing line and tied a grasshopper to the end of it?  If Quacks is hungry enough, maybe he’ll swallow it and you can pull him up. Then we can cut the end of the fishing line off.”  I admitted I had no idea if he could survive swallowing the fishing line.

     “It’s worth a try,” Luke said, bounding out the door.  He returned a short time later.

     “Mom,” Luke called excitedly.  “Can you pray?  Quacks bites the grasshopper but when I pull up the line, he lets go.”

     I was surprised by the question.  Pray for a duck?  Luke looked at me hopefully, so of course I told him yes.

     As he left to try again, Luke’s request suddenly made perfect sense.  God made animals with feelings.  They got cold, scared, lonely, tired, and hungry.  I sat down in the living room and prayed for God to guide Quacks up out of the hold.  IN minutes, Luke returned with a big smiles and a little duckling.

Luke, age 10, and Quacks
     “He bit the grasshopper and I was able to pull him all the way up,” he explained breathlessly.  “When I grabbed him, he just let the grasshopper drop out of his mouth.” 

     By now the other kids were coming downstairs.  As we filled them I in on the rescue, I could not get over the fact that Quacks had actually made it out of the hole. “Didn’t you all thing it was impossible that we’d ever see Quacks again?” I asked.

     The kids looked at me surprised.  “I knew God could do anything so I prayed to Him last night to save quacks,” seven-year-old Tyler said, nonchalantly.

     “That’s what I did too,” agreed Luke.”

Luke today, age 28
     Now, I was really impressed.  Their faith had no limits.  If God could save wayward souls that fall through the cracks, how could I have doubted that He would be wiling to save our wayward Quacks in answer to the prayers of children of such faith?  

  Instead of saving ducks these days, Luke is a freelance writer and also works to save people from hardships. He was the program director for the God's Child Project in Guatemala for 4 years. Currently, he is raising money to help keep 55 children in school there. Two of girls he actually saved from living in a garbage dump several years earlier had returned to the dump due to loss of funding for them.(The brothel 1/2 mile away recruits such girls.)   He got them out again and back into school through the Integral Heart Foundation.  He is raising money for this program which strives to keep people from falling into the cracks. Consider giving please. 

To keep the inspiration going, check out: Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families  a collection of stories on love and life, and  Dear God, I Don't Get It, children's fiction that presents faith through a fun and exciting story. Follow Patti at Twitter and like her Facebook pages at Dear God Books,  Big Hearted FamiliesA GPS Guide to Heaven and Earth 


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