Cast your bread upon the waters…

There is a small inlet that runs along the front of our property, and from there, flows into the little lake around which our community is built. In the winter, the inlet is filled with water, but by mid-summer, it is much diminished as the rains dry up and the sun takes over. I’ve seen a few ‘critters’ in the inlet, the odd bird now and then, but by and large, it is mostly deserted in both winter and summer.

Until this winter.

This winter, the lake froze solid for the first time in 25 years, and that meant that a lot of the lake dwellers were suddenly without open water. Our inlet, although frozen in the middle, remained open along the edges, and all of a sudden, we were the most popular place in town. Little birds used it for drinking water; stray cats patrolled its banks; the otter appeared several times. And, a pair of mallard ducks decided it would make the perfect winter getaway.

It started with that pair of mallards who boldly marched up the bank and demanded to be fed. I surmised that they were usually well taken care of by the many people who visited the boardwalk and dock along the lake, but now, with a frozen lake, the bounty had all but disappeared. They showed no fear as they waddled up to the path and quacked at me, demanding that I  ‘do something’.

So, I brought out a couple of slices of bread (premium bread, I might add, bought at the local bakery). Graciously, they accepted the hand-out.

They began to watch for me, and as as soon as I came down the path, there they were, waiting and quacking loudly. As the premium bread supply dipped alarmingly low, I decided to buy “duck bread” at the store – two loaves for $3.00 – and started to carry a couple of slices with me when I left the house.

As the weather warmed up and the lake ice melted, I saw less and less of my pair of Mallards. I must admit to a slight feeling of annoyance – they only liked me for my easy hand-outs.

And then, they were back. But with friends – no doubt their closest relations – grannie and gramps, a couple of siblings, maybe a cousin or two. It got busy at feeding time and the bread supply became a standard grocery list staple. But, I will admit, it was also fun. The “duckies” have become part of my daily routine, one that I look forward to and enjoy.

As I stood there and doled out bread today, I remembered Jesus’ admonition to “Cast your bread upon the waters…”, and the promise that it would come back to you multiplied many times. Perhaps what he really meant was more like feeding the ducks – make two ducks happy and you’ll have more ducks.

Tell two people about the love of God and they’ll tell two more, and so on, and so on, and so on….


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Four days in…

It’s cold. Not the mind-numbing, face-hurting, deep-freeze of the East, but nevertheless, cold. Below normal, they all tell me. Not usually like this, I am assured.

I get little comfort from their words.

When we moved to the “warmest city in Canada in the winter” (according to Environment Canada), we did so as winter refugees. We were among that band of poor, sad little people trailing in from the far reaches of the continent, hoping to find a land of milk and honey, or at least, of rain and greenery. “Bring us your frozen, your battle-weary, your shovel-laden”, they said, and so we came.

And it was good. January was a time when spring first raised its head, showing itself in green shoots of daffodils along the verge of the road. The warm wind from the Pacific would waft in and the smell of verdant earth hinted of things to come. Bird song filled the mornings – yes, in January – and the black birds called in the marshes of our little lake.

And our little lake – not frozen – but alive with flotillas of ducks.

Not so today – four days into January, when I was expecting a  little respite, a little hope, at the very least, a faint zephyr of warm wind after an unseasonably cold December.

But hope died because today, it’s cold. I rise at dawn to replace the frozen hummingbird feeders with warm nectar (and yes, we do have year-round hummingbirds here). I hear their little clickings of encouragement from the depth of the towering trees as I trudge out in my dressing gown and thick sweater. Then, I top up the bird feeders on the deck and down in the yard. I break the ice around the small hole of bubbling water in the pond. I look out across the frozen inlet and then to the frozen lake beyond, and put out bread for the Mallard pair who have taken refuge in the inlet.

It’s cold and I don’t like it.

And then I remind myself that spring will come – maybe not as soon as I thought it would, but it will come, just as the sun always rises even after the darkest night.

It occurs to me that sometimes our Christian walk is the same. It’s not what we expected. Not what we think we were promised. Not comfortable, not easy, not fulfilling. But, there is always a turning point when the Creator leads us onto a new path, one that is all that we hoped. And in that new walk, we realize that the dark hours we spent were part of our growing process.


(The photo was taken last December during one of the rare snowfalls here.)


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