April 26, 2015 By Bobsy Dudley-Thompson

By 6:00 Am, the darkness was already bearing down on the light of day. The voices of desperation came back to me after three early morning food deliveries: ?our kids ain?t eatin since breakfast yesterday ? ; my husband?s in the hospital; the car?s broke down, could you possibly??

I had been up very early, saut?ing the garlic and onion for a huge pot of chowder for the ?soup lunch? that day. I needed a break. After those deliveries, I veered off U.S. 1 to the Millbridge town landing to get a glimpse of the sun breaking through the early morning fog over the bay. I drove to the southernmost end of the boat landing area, turned off the engine and stepped out of the car. Having looked out and seaward, I hadn?t noticed what I?d driven into. There encircling the car lay at least a dozen dead mallards. I walked through this circle of death, examining the ominous wreckage: torn, mutilated bodies, hollowed by the removal of flesh, lay strewn about, their legs and wings scattered nearby. The distinctly emerald-green heads lay there completely intact, though severed from their bodies; their glassy eyes stared upward, lending a pathetic dignity to the darkness. It was ghastly. Surreal. Unfathomable. A very dark scene. And very confusing.

Was I dreaming? Hallucinating? Or, worse, was I going crazy? Had I driven into the center of a primordial archetypal sacrificial rite? I looked around for someone else?for some assurance that this scene of violence and death was real. There at the end of the pier to the north and behind me, an old man shuffled along, his hands deep in his pockets. He, too, must be out to greet the morning sun. I called to him, ?Can you PLEASE come over here?? Apparently, sensing the urgency in my voice, he moved determinedly in my direction. H stopped, looked down and gasped in horror? ?Oh, my God, jeezus. Awful. Awful. Bad business, this.?

?What happened?? I asked. ?Died at sea? Washed ashore? Eaten by dogs? Shot and dumped?abandoned here??

?Dunno,? he answered. ?Somethin’s wrong.?

I asked hesitantly, ?Do people shoot mallards for food? Are they THAT HUNGRY??

?Dunno? he said again. ?Could be these days,? he muttered thoughtfully. ?Could be these days??

We stepped away from the broken bodies. ?You live around heah?? he asked.

?Well, um, yes. I work nearby?up to Weald Bethel farmhouse in Cherryfield,? I answered.

?Oh, yes, you the new minister up therah?? he asked.

?Well, um, yes,? I answered hesitantly. We introduced ourselves and shook hands. After an awkward silence, Russell Tucker said, even more hesitantly than I had been, ?Well-um-well-um?I ain?t been to church-um?in some years now. But, but?I do think about God a lot.?

?Well,? I quickly responded, ?God knows. That?s what matters most.? I was feeling quite smug. What a perfect minister?s response, I thought.

In the silence we stared at the carnage at our feet. And Richard Tucker slowly, slowly raised his arms widely, brought his fingertips together above his head, forming a large arc. Then, in counter motion, he drew an imaginary circle above the circle of dead Mallards, and said quietly and prayerful, ?God?s right here in the middle of this mess.?

This poor, unchurched man, rich in perception and kindness, had stopped, prayed, and had given a blessing. I thought, God IS in the blessing. Yes, God breaks into our world in crises, in our brokenness?just as silently as the light of day breaks through the early morning darkness. Russell Tucker did not account for anything, he did not explain anything.

Oh, how we want answers, explanations, certainty. Especially in matters of faith and religion. We might listen to the poet Rilke, who says forget the answers, the certainty and the proof. LIVE the questions, LIVE into the mystery?especially in matters of faith and religion. You know the old adage, ?Have the courage of your convictions! Pooff ? Revise that. Have the courage of your confusion?especially in matters of faith and religion.

Russell left. I vaguely remember waving goodbye?slightly. Russell had left. I stayed for a few moments of lovely silence. Just looking out over the bay.

And the sun rose over the bay, sending shafts of light through the morning sea mist.