By Heidi Skarie, Minnesota
One summer morning, I left my house to run some errands. As I drove down Minnetonka Boulevard in a suburb of Minneapolis, I saw a mallard hen in the median strip of the highway. It looked as if she’d been hit by a car but was still alive and flapping her wings. I decided to try to help her.
This stretch of road had a marsh on either side and narrow shoulders, so I drove a little farther until I found a safe place to pull over. I walked back along the road and waited for a break in traffic. When I reached the hen, I didn’t see any visible injuries on her, but I noticed that she couldn’t get up.
I felt a connection to this injured creature of God as I bent to pick her up. She didn’t try to get away but seemed to understand I was trying to help her. Gently I lifted the duck into my arms, carried her to the car, and placed her on the passenger seat.
I knew that the veterinary office where I took my cat and dog was licensed to take care of injured wild animals, so I decided to take the mallard there. As I drove I sang HU, a love song to God. Singing HU uplifts and makes me feel peaceful, and I thought it also might help calm the duck.
A Peaceful Transition
After parking the car at the veterinarian’s office, I looked over at the mallard duck and saw she had died, or translated. In my religion translated means the consciousness of the person or animal is no longer in the physical world and has moved on to a higher plane. While feeling sorry the hen had passed, I was glad she’d gone peacefully in my car instead of in the middle of a busy highway.
I carried her to a wooded area near the veterinarian’s office and set her body down on the grass, under tall trees, near a marsh filled with cattails and turtles. I chose, as a sacred ground for her final resting place, a spot that might be similar to where she’d lived and raised her ducklings .
I wasn’t able to save this mallard hen’s life, but perhaps I’d made things easier for her—another Soul, one of God’s creatures. In prayer I said, “May the blessings be,” an expression that means I surrender the situation to God. After laying the duck’s body to rest, I returned to my car and went on with my errands, feeling grateful that I’d driven by at the right moment to help this mallard duck in her last moments.
God Is Watching
That evening at home, my husband said, “I was driving along Minnetonka Boulevard when I saw some compassionate woman had stopped her car to help an injured mallard. When I drew closer, I was surprised and delighted to see it was you.”
“How interesting that you drove by just then,” I said. “I didn’t see you.”
Sometimes I feel like my small daily actions don’t amount to much—such as when I pick up trash while on a walk, help a turtle across the road, babysit my grandkids, or help my ninety-seven-year-old mother. But when I think back on that day with the mallard duck, I realize quiet acts do touch others—animals, birds, and people.
As we touch others we’re learning about divine love and unfolding spiritually. This experience with the mallard duck served as a reminder to act with kindness at all times, as if God is watching me.
—Photos above by Heidi Skarie; photo below by Allen Anderson
A Contemplation Seed
You are invited to reflect on the spiritual messages in this story by contemplating on this passage from The Shariyat-Ki-Sugmad, Books One & Two:
It is in the small events, such as goodness in the daily things of life, being kind to a child, speaking softly to those who can be hurt easily, noninjury to a fellow creature, and the giving of one’s self to others who are without the essentials of life, that spiritual unfoldment can be found.
Is there a small goodness in daily life you could do for a person or animal today? How might it contribute to your spiritual unfoldment?