I’ve mentioned my struggle feeling worthy of God’s love, even in spite of having an incredible life where I love so many, and am loved in return. Recently I had an experience with Mary that, as Holly says, pierced my heart in its beauty and simplicity, and led me right to Christ’s love.
A vital part of my spiritual life is a daily walk in the valley along a river where I observe the incessant shifting of New England seasons. Since I’m often overwhelmed by situations in my life, I find a great deal of solace in the truth of how the river changes. The Farmington River, about the width of a three-lane highway, rushed high that day, moving at a good pace after a weekend of heavy rain. I spotted a single male Mallard duck with a glistening emerald-green head. Usually the ducks are in a group of pairs along the shallow edges. He came around a tight bend, about eight feet from shore, where the current was the fastest, and the surface the glassiest.
He was just riding the river. I burst out laughing because he was such a tiny creature surrounded by all that water, all those trees and sky, and I could tell he felt really good. He had no intention of stopping or changing his mind. Clearly, it was just so fun. There was no need to turn around, or to fly away. He kept gliding along as if—well, as if he were part of the river. Which he was.
I kept watching him until he slid out of sight beyond the farthest turn. And this is what struck me: from the moment I spied that duck, I loved him. It made no sense. I stood on that riverbank, wondering if this is how Mary viewed me. Was I like that duck, just moving along, and she was near even if I didn’t know it? And how could I love a little duck that quickly?
It was then that lyrics returned to me. I had not thought of this song, in all honesty, in decades. We sang it at the 10:00 folk mass when I was child. Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers that you do unto me. I would say that the duck qualifies as the “least of my brothers.” Standing all alone in the tranquility of the woods, my connection to nature turned into an understanding of how Mary loves me and, ultimately, how Christ works through us all.
The heart is the heart, joyous and free. It makes no sense that I loved that duck. Love just is. I’m dumbfounded by the mystery of it all. In thinking of his shiny green head now, I wonder if this is how Christ feels sometimes. That we are like the little ducks, riding the river, and we are loved. If only we knew.
Mary, you show me the importance of simplicity. May I not be weighed down by the odds and ends of this world but stay simple and filled with love for all.