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Glimpse of Grace in a Church Garth (edited)

For the last four years a mallard nested in our church garth—a walled outdoor garden courtyard located in the middle of the church building. She first showed up when the garth was being excavated so that new drainage tile could be laid. While it was under construction we had an unusually wet spring which resulted in a six foot deep hole filling with runoff water. This “pond” surrounded by high brick walls must have been just too inviting to resist. She saw not a garth with a water-filled mud hole, but a safe small pond. Over the years she has been dubbed, “Garth Duck.”
    These last years we watched her nest, give birth and even mourn. Last year all of her little ones died, one by one. I hated going into the garth each day knowing that I would find another little body. We wondered what killed them. We knew that it wasn’t a predator. Had they been poisoned? Was there an unknown toxin? Maybe the fertilizer?  It wasn’t until after the last duckling died that someone mentioned that our Associate Minister, who left the previous year, put feed out each morning the previous two years! All this time I thought they forged(this should be foraged) off the land! But no, they had been fed! 
    After the last duckling died it was heartbreaking to see the mother walk around the garth mournfully calling to her brood which was no more.  Each evening she would utter what can only be described as a mournful cry to the setting sun. I felt terrible about what had happened and vowed that if she returned, there would not be a repeat.
    Well, as I said, she came back this year in all of her glory. It was almost as if she wanted to make up for lost time as she  laid fourteen eggs! Patiently she sat on her next(this should be nest) under an evergreen shrub. And then, a couple of weeks ago while the Benediction was being said at the outdoor worship service, she decided to take her brood on their first morning walk, around the perimeter of the garth to the excitement of all the worshipers! Needless to say, God gave a greater Benediction that day!
    As I sit in the minister’s study watching Garth Duck and her little ones on an early morning run-about, I see a glimpse of grace. What drew her back to this spot over the past four years, especially after a year of great sadness? Watching her silhouette against the high brick walls of the garth, I think that I know what it was. In the words of the Psalm, “The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer…in whom I take refuge.” (18:2) Surrounded by the sanctuary of a worship space, she found true sanctuary, even in the shadow of sadness.

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3 thoughts on “Glimpse of Grace in a Church Garth (edited)

  1. Ginny Thomas says:

    Hi Frosty!  Thanks for the update on those precious little ducks!  I’m back from Iowa as of Wednesday, and I’ll see you in church Sunday!  Ginny T

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