Saturday, April 9, 2011


Mates Out to Lunch, Jamestown, NC
Loner, Jamestown, NC

I was running a few errands this Saturday morning and just happened to end up close to a favorite Mexican restaurant around lunch time, so I pulled into their parking lot and walked in to be greeted by the young hostess. “Just one?” she mindlessly queried and then led me to the last booth in the back of the dining area. “Got anything father back?” I asked. She didn’t get it and there was no point in explaining it. It has been almost three years since my wife of forty years succumbed to breast cancer. We almost always ate together, with the exceptions of lunch during work days and eating alone during travel times. I quickly calculated that we must have shared at least 30,000 meals together during our married life. Breaking bread together is one of the most common and effective human activities that facilitates bonding and relationships. And I understand that one of us must leave first and the other will eventually follow, but be left to respond to the ubiquitous question, “Just one”? Of course, there’s solace in knowing that we’re never “just one”, as our creator has promised that He is with us always. Perhaps the next time I’m eating out I’ll respond by saying “No, God is with me, so I guess that makes two—but we’ll need ‘just one’ menu please”.

Ironically, as I drove away from the restaurant, I passed a flock of resident Canadian geese that were also out to lunch in the common grounds between an apartment complex and the street. Remembering my youthful days in central Kansas hunting these giants of migratory waterfowl, I pulled into the complex and retrieved my handy digital camera from the glove box. Shooting a Canada was the ultimate prize back in those days. Now I could simply drive up to them and shoot at will with my camera, creating little or no interruption for the geese. I remembered one hunt years ago when we got lucky enough to crawl upon a flock of Canada’s feeding on fresh young shoots of winter wheat. We were close enough to drop one of the small flock after the sentry goose gave a quick head toss to reveal his conspicuous white chin band. It wasn’t until much later in life that I understood the meaning of the lone Canada that circled our little hunting band with our prize long after the other geese had departed the scene.

Canada geese are monogamous creations that mate and stay together all of their lives. If one is killed, the other may or may not find a new mate. They maintain tight family units and celebrate their social commitments to one another through a display of waving necks and loud honking called a triumph ceremony. This behavior is displayed after a victorious confrontation with other geese. Canada’s without triumph partners exhibit tell-tale movements. They can be seen swimming or walking with their necks angled forward as if looking for a lost mate or calling plaintively in flight. Biologists have observed triumph ceremonies when family members fly in to rejoin a feeding flock after being separated by space or time.

Fortunately for Canada geese and all of God’s other creatures, they go through each waking day without the slightest inkling or understanding of the inevitability and finality of death. Fortunately for us human beings, we understand, especially at this Easter season, that life doesn’t end with death. Our savior died for us and conquered death. There is no need for mates or reproduction in the spiritual realm--and there will be more than "just one" grand buffet with all of those soul mates that reunite in our triumph ceremony!

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