Duck is my mom’s name. Well, sort of. Her mother’s maiden name was “Quackenbush”—that’s right, “Quack—en—bush” and so her friends growing up affectionately called her “Duck” from the “Quack” of “Quackenbush.
That’s why when I met Donald on the Corner and he told me he went by “Duck,” I couldn’t help but feel we were meant to be friends.
He wore glasses and had a studious look, even in his more tattered clothes. He seemed to like me right off the bat, and asked me to pray for him when we first met a month ago.
Last Thursday, Duck was there again and we got to talking. He told me it meant a lot to see me because he has a daughter my age exactly—29. She wanted him to get off of crack/cocaine and he has been clean two weeks. Before that he was in the penitentiary two years. He doesn’t want to go back, but it’s hard.
He looked at me and said, “Sometimes I just want to go sit by myself and weep because of the pain in my life.”
He used the word “weep.” He wants to go be alone and weep over his pain.
“Duck, sometime I would love to hear about your life,” I replied after taking in the personal moment.
He asked if we could sit down, and we did, right on the steps of the abandoned house on the Corner. We sat close because he started talking much more quietly. I assume he didn’t want to broadcast what he was about to share.
“There have been a lot of ups and downs in my life. I have had some real happy times. Like when my daughter was born,” he smiled as he spoke. Then, he got serious as he looked at me, “I don’t know how to be happy again.”
He continued, “When you come, you are just so happy. What would you tell a father he should do to love his daughter? You are my daughter’s age—what would you tell me to do?”
I told him, “What helps us to love other people is simple. When we love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, he fills us. We all have empty places in our hearts, and we try to fill them with thing after thing, but they don’t make us happy.”
“Well, sometimes they do,” he corrected me.
“That’s true,” I said. “Sometimes they do. But it’s only temporary. Then we are looking for the next thing to make us happy. When we look to Jesus to make us happy, then the empty places in our hearts are filled and we can really love other people and things unselfishly, without trying to get all of our happiness from them. When we are filled with Jesus’s love, then we can really love other people better.”
He thought about what I said. He yelled over at Jonathan, “Give me one of those Bibles. I don’t have one.” Jonathan brought him a pink leather covered Bible that used to belong to a woman named Mary.
I opened up to Psalm 19 and read it aloud to Duck and a few others who had joined us by then…
The Law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
Duck said, “I needed that. I am going to read it again tonight.” I’m hoping it sinks in.
God is not calling us to himself to obey all the rules, so that when we don’t obey he beats us over the head. God is calling us to follow him because he is sweeter than the sweetest thing we know. Moreover, everything else that’s sweet besides him fades, but he only gets sweeter with time.