By Lisa Whaley
On my way to work last week amid a deluge of rain, I witnessed a strange sight that stuck with the rest of that damp, gray Friday.
Driving down Highway 107 along the Nolichucky River, I passed a duck on a mission.
She was marching along the side of the road, seemingly on her way to Erwin, in her decidedly ducky-waddling way. To her right was the rushing river; to her left, the in-a-hurry morning traffic.
She looked neither right nor left, her eyes intent on what lie ahead.
I christened her “Maude.” It seemed to suit her.
She made me smile, and she made me reflect on my oh-so-similar journey, intent on the next stop on my journey and the next, looking neither left nor right — somewhat unaware of the beauty and the dangers I was passing by.
I know I’ve mentioned it before. We live in such a busy, busy culture. There is so much to do and not enough time to do it. The tyranny of the urgent rules.
Yet more often than not, the things we are rushing off to are not the important things in life — family, friends, compassion, forgiveness — but the less important ones like possessions, status, and even those mundane tasks like laundry, dishes and mowing a lawn.
I thought about Maude off and on the rest of the day and into the weekend. The rains continued, bringing the Nolichucky to near flood stage, and I decided I had perhaps maligned poor Maude. Maybe her ducky forecast had been a bit more up-to-date than mine or perhaps she had been paying closer attention.
All along 107, water was out in the roads. Front yards had become good-sized ponds. And new little “creeks” were rushing along and beside the highways.
Erwin’s Witness Walk — an annual Easter tradition that rarely lets itself be impacted by the weather —had to be cancelled due to the downpour. The faithful still gathered at Centenary United Methodist Church in tribute to the walk, but had to forego the re-creation of Jesus’ journey carrying the cross.
Unless you were a duck like Maude, the torrent was just too severe.
Saturday brought more rain and cold. Water was everywhere and the skies continued to show gray as we prepared deviled eggs, sourdough rolls and dessert for Sunday’s Easter dinner with family. My mother-in-law was providing the ham.
Traditional Easter outfits were quickly modified in preparation for Sunday’s Sunrise Service. Sleeveless floral dresses and sandals were definitely no longer appropriate to the 40-degree morning forecast.
Early that morning, with light sweaters and warmer close-toed shoes added to our outfits, we made our way to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. The sky still looked dreary. We sang hymns and heard once again the story of the crucifixion and the rolled-away stone.
And for a moment, we stopped rushing. We sat still, savoring the story of God’s love and the closeness of the family around us.
Then, as we left the sanctuary, the sun burst from the clouds, revealing a beautiful sky. The rain may have darkened our days for a bit, but morning had finally come.
It was an important reminder.
On the way home, we passed one of those new “ponds” along the side of the road. The sun was still shining and several ducks were enjoying an early morning swim. I swear one looked just like Maude.