This afternoon my husband led a Eucharist at one of the historic churches in our parish. Our parish is huge and many of the teeny churches that originally hosted a handful of families decades ago are abandoned now, most of them deconsecrated and standing woefully alone in what are now ghost towns.
This particular church has not had services more than once a year or less for the past 5 years. There are only 3 Anglicans left in the area and since it is nearly 90 minutes away from the active church here in town, it is most rare to see any of these dear folk at our local services on Sundays.
It was a wonderful service on a bright and sunny afternoon, even the dead flies, buzzing wasps and hordes of mosquitoes that would usually have infested an ancient and unused church building standing in the middle of a deserted former rural town were absent. We had a congregation of 13 as word had gone through the area that a service would be held today.
For the first time in my life I played a 100 year old pump organ so that we could sing some hymns. It hadn't been played in years so the first hymn was a little sketchy as my feet pumped both pedals as quickly as possible to breathe some life into the old instrument. I think the adrenaline that arose from not having played any kind of organ in a church service before, let alone one like this one, kept any pain from reaching my overworked, still healing, ankle as I pushed and pushed those huge pedals up and down through 3 hymns that seem to have sprouted extra verses since the last time I saw them.
BUT, despite the rush of finding out I was the organist for the afternoon, that was not the heart attack moment!
The heart attack moment came on the way back to our town after the service. As we drove along the highway I noticed something in the middle of our lane that looked like a blowing lump of grey construction tape. As we got closer the lump seemed to be moving in the opposite direction to the wind flow. As we got even closer that lump of tape seemed to have a feathery appearance and also little yellow sticks coming out the bottom of it.
We were nearly on top of it when my husband let out a yelp and swerved toward the ditch beside us to avoid hitting the grey mass on the road. What had appeared to be a roll of unravelling construction tape was actually a tiny grey mother duck herding a huge number of ducklings right across the busiest highway in the area!!
Talk about a heart attack moment! We swerved violently to avoid hitting them dead on, the car immediately behind us followed suit although we are not certain the driver had been able to ascertain why exactly we had swerved. We thought our duckies were goners as the oncoming traffic was so heavy and those vehicles were facing directly into the sun. The oncoming drivers were not hitting their brakes and I was certain that in a split second there would be feathers all over the road.
But good old Mama Duck: as soon as we began to swerve she started to race pell mell the rest of the way across the highway with her wings spread over her brood to give them the hint that it was time to move and move quickly. The oncoming cars missed them by mere centimeters, didn't even appear to see the ducks scurrying along, and mama and babies disappeared into the opposite ditch. Whew!!
Thank you God! Thank you for saving the ducks, and thank you that it wasn't my time to go.....