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This Duck Tale Warms the Heart

Observing the ducks in her pond, she realized what a difference we can make in each other’s lives

A close up of a lone duck floating on a pond.

Content provided by Good Samaritan Society.

Early spring can be a harsh time in the Midwest. It can take both people and animals by surprise with its unexpected snowstorms.

My house is built so that my backyard overlooks a large retention pond, and every spring, migratory fowl camp out in the pond on the way to their summer homes. This year, in addition to a number of geese and mallards, the pond was a wayside rest for hundreds of scaups, a type of diving duck. They spent several days hanging out, disappearing underwater in their search for tasty morsels and clustering around what I can only assume were good eats.

And then the snowstorm hit, followed by a blisteringly cold night. As the temperature dipped to 5 degrees and the open water of the pond shrank away into icy desolation, the scaups took off for a more hospitable habitat.

When I looked out my window the next morning, I was shocked to see that every single bird had disappeared overnight — except for one lone female, who was diving energetically in her little circle of open water, an area probably only 6 feet in diameter. Her movement and body heat had kept the ice at bay, and she valiantly paddled around as I watched her from the comfort of my warm abode.

Over the course of the day, I would pause what I was doing to glance out at the lone duck. Although the temperature was slowly creeping up outside, it was still quite frigid, and as time passed, the open water around the duck shrank, and her movements slowed. It was obvious she was in distress. I watched with anxiety as she eventually stopped moving, and I feared she was dead.

And then it happened: Two more ducks suddenly appeared, landing next to her still body. The circle of water, now only about three feet across, came alive with their splashing and diving.

And then there were three new ducks. Then 10. Then 20. And as the amount of ducks increased, the circle of water did, too.

At first, the lone female didn’t move. But as the number of ducks in the pond grew, she slowly came back to life. Within minutes, she, too, was splashing and diving happily, revived by her friends’ presence.

While her friends may not have realized it, they probably saved this little duck’s life. She wouldn’t have lasted another night on the frozen pond. And she, in turn, had done them a favor by keeping that patch of water open, so they had a place to stop and re-energize.

The whole drama made me pause to consider how we can have a profound effect on the people around us. They might be our friends, or they might be total strangers. But a look, an action, a few words  — even our mere presence — might brighten someone’s day. It might change their path. It might even save their life.

“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.” – Proverbs 3:27 (NIV)

If you knew that your every action had the power to change a person’s life, would you be more careful about what you said? About how you acted, or reacted, to others?

Prayer: Gracious God, let us be a healing presence to those we encounter, knowing that your love has blessed us beyond measure. Amen.

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