The Little White Duck

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Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time, in the not-so-far-off land of Iowa, there was a girl. And a duck.

And no, this isn’t a nursery rhyme or fairy tale. Just the real events of one very ordinary day in my life. (And yes, it really does involve a duck.)

This summer has been different in so many ways: COVID,  juggling virtual learning and working, the Derecho, learning the “new normal” every week, and so on. But one thing that remained constant for me was running. 

In summers past I usually ran outside four times a week. This summer I added an extra day, because it was so good for me to get out of the house. With some time to myself, and time to pray, I could get the day started off on the right foot, not only externally but also within my heart.

I love nature. I love the colors of the wildflowers, the scent of the trees, the sight of different animals, the feel of fresh air on my face, and the sound of the crickets in the early morning. Every morning I see something new, and God uses that time to speak to me. 

On the Run

This particular Thursday was completely ordinary, nothing special stood out to me as I tied my shoes, stepped outside, and started my trek. Out I went, pounding the pavement and meditating on the Luminous mysteries.

There is a pond early on along my route. Often, though not always, I will see flocks of beautiful tan and brown ducks gathered there. Watching ducks is a very fond childhood memory so I always get a kick when I see them there as I jog by. 

The pond is a bit of an uphill climb, so I don’t get a good glimpse right away. The scene just gradually reveals itself as I press on. And on this particular Thursday morning I start to notice there are a lot of ducks. As I got closer, something very unusual caught my eye: a white duck.

I stopped dead in my tracks at the sight and said out loud, “Well look at that! That’s not something you see everyday!” At this point I had just gotten into my groove with my run, but my legs would not move. I just stood there taking in the scene. I have never ever ever seen a white duck in this pond. 

It was just one single, white duck among all these tan ones, just like it was part of the family. Almost immediately, I felt God say, “Born to stand out.” 

At this point, I knew God wanted my attention. Sometimes I get so caught up in the day-to-day that God has to do things like this so my feet (body) and focus (mind) are directed only where He wants my attention. Does God ever stop you in your tracks like that?

Then I heard again, “Why are you trying to blend in when you’re born to stand out?” Where have I heard this before? It feels like a line from a movie or something, but I just can’t place it. 

Remember how I mentioned it was a Thursday? That fact is lodged in my memory because at that exact moment I was reflecting on the first Luminous Mystery: the Baptism of Our Lord. What a picture this painted of the gift of Baptism! The image of the white dove descending on us.

In that glorious moment of baptism we are welcomed into the family of God. From that moment on we are set apart. Born to be different. Each of us has our own unique gifts to bless those around us. God put His special imprint on our hearts that no one else has. We are indeed born to stand out. 

Eyes Wide Open

This may not have been a fictional fairy tale, but it’s even better: it’s part of my real life love story with my God. I never did see a white duck in that pond again. That duck fulfilled the purpose: getting my attention and revealing God’s love.

So I invite you to keep your eyes open this week. And ponder with me, what’s your little white duck? How is God trying to get your attention this week? How will He reveal His love?

Katie Sample moved to the Des Moines area from South Dakota. She is a wife and mother to a very passionate and energetic son. Katie yearns to dive deeper into the mysteries of God and all the ways he reveals his love to us. She also loves to listen and walk with people on their journey. It is not unusual to find her reading, listening to music, running, and drinking wine. The Samples are parishioners at St. Luke's in Ankeny, IA