Written by Jennifer Brownell
"You are witnesses of these things." - Luke 24:48
It was not one thing, but all the day's little annoyances that combined to feel completely overwhelming. Pecked to death by ducks, I thought crabbily, driving home from another meeting. So I'm not sure why I stopped my car when I saw the woman sitting on the curb, staring intently into a sewer grate.
She pointed at a chirping flock of ducklings perched on the edge of a PVC pipe that emptied into a cloudy square of water under the grate. A mallard nearby called and walked in nervous circles. We agreed the duck must have been crossing the road, and walked over the grate, when the chicks following her fell through – plop, plop, plop. She was too big to get in, and they were too small to get out.
After a bit, a man arrived and began pulling ducklings out of the pipe. It seems mallards can't count very high, because as soon as she had four, the mama collected them under her wings, waddled toward the nearby creek and floated downstream.
The man was still pulling ducklings out of the pipe, so I got hold of one before it wandered away. Although they had seemed so important just a few minutes before, I forgot all the day's annoyances as I lay down in the mud by the stream and set that fluffy, trembling little body in the water, to paddle away with its family.
We think that resurrection, when it comes, will come with trumpets and earthquakes and angels perched cheekily on stones. But sometimes it's not one big death, but a thousand small ones that bury you. You are witness, too, to the resurrection that comes as a flutter of life, so tiny you can hold in your hand. And when you stand up dripping mud and maybe tears, you will find it's not just another life that's been saved, it's your own.
Brother Christ, resurrect me, please, today and every day. Amen.
Jennifer Garrison Brownell is the Senior Pastor at Hillsdale Community Church – United Church of Christ and the author of the forthcoming book, Swim, Ride, Run, Breathe: How I Lost a Triathlon and Caught My Breath.