‘Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.’ Colossians 3:12
February 23, 2018
I notice Ed’s truck ahead of me to the right parked next to one of many ponds in our housing development. I ease to the right, careful to make my way up the nearest driveway and onto the sidewalk. I coast a bit then pull the brake back with a slight squeeze. I lean to the right drop my foot holding the bike as I climb off. I circle the bike around near Ed’s truck attempting to balance the kickstand in the grass as not to block the sidewalk. The bike tips sideways and I grab it, maneuvering it carefully to the sidewalk where it can sit safely. ‘Oh well, I tried.’
I turn from my struggle and see Ed happily in his groove on the opposite side of the pond. He’s grinning ear to ear with a fish in hand. I smile and nod. He tosses the bass back into the pond. I walk carefully through the dead dry trees that line the front of the pond, traversing through the mulch and lush green grass. I say hello. He tells me how aggressive the bass are in this particular pond, while excitedly showing me his fluorescent fuchsia bait worm. ‘Do you see it?’ The water splashes. ‘More fish,’ I ask. ‘Carp maybe,’ he replies.
I realize I’ve forgotten my necessities and I make my way back. I snatch the towel from Ed’s front seat and my water bottle from my bike. As I make my way back to where Ed is, I’m careful not to startle the chorus line of ducks making their way past me. I circle wide as they make their way to the water. I’m in awe witnessing the grace of each one as they rest easy in the water when I here a squawk. An unforeseen duck frantically scurrying in front of me, an angry burst of energy as he hits the water. Feathers raised and feet peddling – ‘oops sorry.’ He must have been behind the bushes.
Splash! I turn my attention from the ducks as Ed exclaims, ‘oh, did you see that? A bald eagle caught a fish!’ I hear an eagle scream in the distance. ‘I bet they’re on the roof over there,’ he tells me, clearly reading the desperation in my eyes. I must investigate. I hear the screams again. I jump up from my towel and run over, mindless of space and time, I simply seek the source of this sound. I traverse the edge of the pond, passing three or four houses, as I reach the clearing I see them. Two beautiful majestic giants sitting atop the two-story house next to the woods. One bald, one brown. More screaming.
I wonder why the bald one is making that noise and if it’s a male or a female. I feel an energy of overwhelming urgency surrounding this moment. As if the bird is screaming for her child. The more she screams, the more I feel a deep sadness because no one comes. She sits with the fish, no sense of anxiety apparent at all, but yet her screams are laden with something I seem to understand. The brown eagle sits patiently, awaiting a moment of mindlessness. A moment when he can step in and take what is not rightfully his. I stand in silence as I soak up the gift that sits before me, a gift of childlike wonder, something I missed out on the first time around.
I make my way back to my towel to sit when I hear a loud whirring in the sky. Two birds pass by – ‘Black Hawks doing maneuvers,’ Ed ponders. I’m unsure as I look up to the right. ‘No, medical choppers maybe.’ We’re left wondering as the two birds disappear into the horizon. ‘Hey, buddy.’ A man I’ve never met stands before us smiling as he greets Ed. A new friend, a visitor from Guyana. He’s recently acquired his visa so he can move freely, Ed explains. Ed apologizes for misunderstanding when his friend would be returning home. ‘I would have brought you some fresh fish if I’d known you were still here.’ The man smiles easing Ed’s conscious.
Asif has a family waiting for him back in Guyana, a wife, and two kids. His daughter is writing her exams until March, and his son is 18-years old. He will travel home with the intention to return this summer, family in tow. He speaks of his father having a condition, but he doesn’t elaborate. We make no effort to inquire, instead choosing to simply listen to a man who needs to share. He didn’t sleep last night, his father. ‘He has good days and bad days.’ He looks up with a knowing look in his eyes as if to acknowledge that we all have good days and bad. ‘Sometimes he snaps, but I understand it’s not him, it’s his condition.’ He’s learned how to handle him, he explains.
The sadness and need of this moment swirling desperately, he tells us that his Father shouldn’t be left alone but he must return home and his Mother works. Until he can return with his family, his Father will be left alone for a large part of the day. ‘He does better when people are around,’ he explains. His son is close to his Father, they speak on the phone every day, a special bond developed years ago. He will help when they return. There’s something in his eyes that says, ‘everything will better.’
He’s soft-spoken and kind, as he and Ed talk about fishing, types of fish, and the beauty of fishing around the world. A friendship developed while fishing at the pond. Personal feelings shared with ease over a common bond. One meeting. One gift. A gift of fresh fish. The two of them exchange numbers; Asif and Ed, the fishing guys. Two kind hearts connected through an energy of understanding. ‘Safe travels,’ handshakes and smiles. ‘Next time, we’ll go out,’ Ed tells him. ‘Okay buddy,’ Asif responds with a smile. He shyly hesitates then proceeds to say he must go. He hesitates once again, seeming torn between obligation and the need for a friendly ear. One final handshake and he’s off.
‘Where do they live,’ I ask. ‘Right there,’ Ed points at the house behind us. It’s the only single-story home in the bunch. A large concrete slab covered in garden furniture and greenery sits in the back. A sweet place of solitude facing the pond; a reflection of the beauty and grace of God’s everlasting love. That’s where I saw him, Asif’s Dad, sitting peacefully as he watched the water. ‘Does he have dementia,’ I inquire. Ed considers my question and replies, ‘I don’t know, but I know he had dialysis.’ We consider the importance of this moment, acutely aware that life is fleeting, and we lean in.
Photo by Pahala Basuki