Lessons from the Ducks

Gratitude Day 326

Tues., Sept. 17, 2019

John 19:14: “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—

We may be familiar with the passage of scripture where Jesus assures us that he is our shepherd. He knows every single sheep and his sheep know them. We know his voice and he knows our voice. We desire and long to be with our shepherd, just as he longs for us to be in his loving arms.

Do you think Jesus can also be a Royal Duckmaster?

While Hubby Rick and I spent a few days enjoying some Sabbath, we traveled with friends to Memphis, TN. Our friends arranged for us to stay at the historic Peabody Hotel. You might know this as the duck hotel.

The Peabody is a grand, southern hotel. It’s been a hotel for most of the last 150 years. In fact, it was celebrating their 150th anniversary while we were in town.

The Peabody was a part of the original downtown Memphis and is one of the last iconic hotels remaining in Memphis. While some people visit the Peabody to see this great example of a time-tested hotel, let’s be real.

Most people visit because of the ducks. Five little guys who waddle around the Peabody like they own it because, well, basically they do.

Ducks have a long-standing tradition with the Peabody. All the way back to the 1930’s. Frank Schutt, the general manager of the hotel at the time, had returned from a weekend hunting trip to Arkansas. He and his friends left three live duck decoys in the fountain, which they found highly amusing. The ducks were such a hit that since then, five Mallard ducks (one drake and four hens) make the fountain their play station every day.

The ducks live in a quite substantial penthouse, a replica of the Peabody, on the hotel’s roof. At 11 AM every day, the ducks ride down the elevator. When they reach the lobby, a red carpet has been rolled out for them that leads them to the huge travertine marble fountain in the hotel lobby. The ducks frolic around the fountain until 5 PM, when they leave the fountain and take the red-carpet walkway back to the elevator and return to their home on the roof.

All of this is highly choreographed by the head Duckmaster. In 1940, one of the hotel’s bellman volunteered to care for the ducks. He earned the title of Duckmaster after he trained the ducks to march into the hotel lobby to a John Philip Sousa march.

Yes, one of the “must see’s” in Memphis is the march of the ducks. It’s easy to see the ducks know exactly what to do. Their trip to and from the elevator takes really only seconds as they know the route well. Of course, the Duckmaster, decked out in a fancy red jacket, is there to make sure no one strays from the red carpet.

On the day we watched the ducks march back to the elevator, an assistant Duckmaster was chosen and named. It happened to be her birthday. Apparently, she requested to be the assistant Duckmaster for the day and her wish was granted.

It’s clear these ducks know exactly what to do. When to do it. Where to go. How to get there. They are not amateurs at being the Peabody ducks. No, they know exactly what to do.

As Jesus’ sheep, are we as skilled as the Peabody ducks? Do we listen and follow directions as well as the ducks? Do we stay on the path that keeps us aligned with God’s kingdom?

I know there have been too many times when I’ve wandered off the path, thinking I could manage better on my own. While in hindsight, the path was rather clear, I thought I knew better than Jesus and chose my own path. Sometimes, I follow the voice of the Shepherd … sometimes, I don’t. Some days, I waddle along following God’s desires for me. Other days, I’m more than happy to rebel.

Yes, the analogy only goes so far. I have a lot more choices than the ducks do. My environment is not as closely contained as the Peabody ducks. I have more opportunities to wander away and make alternative choices. But just like the Duckmaster, Jesus is constantly hanging around and waiting for me to need him once again. Sometimes, Jesus even sends assistants to help me and I ignore then or completely miss them.

If only I was as loyal as the Peabody ducks.

If only my life was as easy as being a duck.

For a good shepherd who constantly seeks me out, I am grateful. 

Lord God – we are very fortunate to have a Good Shepherd who knows us better than we know ourselves. Who makes himself available to us constantly. Who knows your exact voice. May we yearn to design our lives around being great followers of the Good Shepherd. Amen.

Blessings –

Dianne

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