The city of Boston is famous, among other things, for the fluffy little characters that once made chaos of the downtown traffic and were protected by the kindness of police officers and passersby. Their hike from the Charles River to the city's Public Garden was celebrated in Robert McCloskey's 1941 book Make Way For Ducklings, and more recently in a parade of small bronze statues in the Public Garden.
It's fifty-six years since that book came out, and there is continuing evidence of city dwellers' thoughtfulness, shown in the way people are caring for a flock of white Emden geese that has taken up residence along the northern bank of the Charles. It's a grassy stretch, sprinkled with wildflowers and cherry trees, along which walkers, joggers, and cyclists take their exercise. At the first sign of fluff each spring, the cry goes up, "Make way for goslings!" And for several weeks hardly a person goes by without stopping to admire the golden newcomers to the Charles River family.
Just a few weeks ago I stopped one evening to watch some goslings ruffling more than a few feathers as they argued over the right to nestle under their mother's wings. It looked as though she would burst as she uncomplainingly made room for all six of them. Suddenly, for the first time in my life, I fully appreciated the opening line of one of Mary Baker Eddy's poems, which I'd known since childhood: "Brood o'er us with Thy shelt'ring wing" (Poems, p. 6).
That image of God caring for us, with the warmth and compassion of a mother bird with wings outspread, is deeply comforting. But God's love for us is even greater than that of a mother bird for her young. After all, He is all-seeing, all-knowing, all-acting Love.
There is ample room for all of us, regardless of our age, under God's sheltering, healing wing. We are never abandoned. Even when we're grown, we can turn to Him for protection at any time. This was demonstrated in the teachings and healings of Christ Jesus and in the lifework of Mrs. Eddy, who founded the Christian Science Church.
After those fresh insights into God's caring nature, you can imagine my concern the following evening, when my daily count showed that one of the geese was missing-not a gosling, but one of the adults. After several minutes of searching, I spotted him thirty yards out into the river.
At the same moment, out of the tall reeds at the water's edge came a woman, her office clothes splashed with mud. In her hands she carried six feet of thick rope stuck with torn white feathers. In halting words she told me how she'd found the bird entangled in the rope, fighting to free himself. He had allowed her to get close enough to twist and pull the rope away, but then immediately had launched himself painfully out into deeper waters.
Instinctively, I said aloud, "God will take care of him and bring him home." The woman responded with interest, and I asked her whether she knew Psalm 91: "He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust" (verse 4). She responded: "Yes, and I also know Psalm 61: 'I will trust in the covert of thy wings. . . . For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy' " (verses 4, 3).
For a few moments we silently prayed, each in our own way. I prayed for a fuller realization of God's unconditional love for all of His creation. Reassured, we watched together until the distressed bird was riding more restfully on waters teased by a gentle evening breeze.
Next day the geese were back to full count. It was impossible for me to tell which had been the injured bird. As I thought back on the previous day's encounter, it felt so good to know that there are still people around who are prepared even to spoil their smart office clothes in order to help a fellow creature in distress.
More important, I was glad to have clear proof that our Father-Mother God is ever on guard-constantly loving and watching over His creation.
You can find other articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.