Parents of eight ducklings need a bit of help finding a safe place to raise their brood. During a rest stop in Boston’s Public Garden, Mr. and Mrs. Mallard agree they just might have found the ideal spot. But when Mrs. Mallard and her darlings are stuck on a busy street in downtown Boston, their policeman friend Michael rushes in, stops traffic, and makes a way for them. And so goes the story, Make Way For Ducklings, the children’s award-winning classic by Robert McCloskey, published by Viking Press in 1941.
Perhaps there have been times in your life when you needed someone like Policeman Michael to make a way for you. I have! Especially now that I’m older. Sometimes I feel as though I’m invisible. I want to throw up my hands and say, “Look at me. I’m a person too. An older person, I know, but still a person. Make room for me, please. Couldn’t you at least acknowledge my presence?”
Maybe that’s why I pump iron and jog and hike. If I stay ‘buff’ I won’t be overlooked so easily. Maybe my age won’t matter.
A few years ago my husband Charles and I were on our way to one of my speaking engagements. One evening at dusk we ventured out of the hotel where we were staying and walked up to the corner of the highway and a cross street that led to a restaurant on the other side.
We were about to make a run for it (no traffic in either direction that we could see) when suddenly a small truck appeared. We back-stepped in surprise as it squealed to a stop. The driver leaned out the window and motioned us to cross. “Go right ahead.”
“Kind enough. But he was in the wrong,” I whispered to my husband with a self-satisfied air. We stepped in front of the vehicle, waved a ‘thank you,’ and then started across.
“No problem,” he called after us. “We have to take care of our older folks!”
That did it! There I stood, fit as a farmer, but to this younger generation I’m still an ‘older folk!’
There’s something about that phrase that clangs in my ear. I’m not ready to listen to it. But maybe I should, since chronologically I am one. I surrendered, jumped off my high horse, and became willing to admit that people of any age can use a bit of support now and then. I decided to view the situation with new eyes.
That evening the young driver had been our ‘Policeman Michael,’ making a way for two elder ducklings to cross the highway safely, so we could return home the following week and get back to the gym.
And every day God makes a way for each one of us–when we turn and ask for his guidance with humble hearts.