A Catholic Monthly Magazine

The Canadian Goose

By Anne Kerrigan Artwork by Felicity Ann Nettles

“Do not be afraid…Are not two sparrows (or Canadian geese) sold for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Every hair on your head has been counted. So, there is no need to be afraid. You are worth more than hundreds of sparrows” Matthew 10:29-33.

It was a rainy May afternoon, and my husband and I were heading home after a meeting at The Cenacle Retreat House in Lake Ronkonkoma, New York. It was a bucolic scene, complete with lovely scenery and a gentle winding road. As we were exiting the grounds, the car in front of us was slowing up and then stopped. We wondered if the driver was experiencing car trouble. We slowed up behind the car, anticipating the need to be of some help. Suddenly, we saw why the car had stopped. A lone Canadian goose had come into view. He was sauntering across the road, taking his time as he meandered in the rain. He was wandering back and forth, oblivious to the potential danger of cars on the road. He was a beautiful bird. He also apparently appeared to be in a walking frame of mind rather than in flying mode. His lovely head swiveled to and fro, gazing at the car. It was as if the bird was indicating an awareness of the car and driver, but was in no hurry to move quickly. He was decidedly moving along at his own pace, marching to the beat of his own drum. Meanwhile, the driver had been patiently waiting for the bird to move across the road to safety. As the bird began to move onto the safety of the lawn, the driver very cautiously moved forward. It was clear that the driver was being extra vigilant in case the goose changed his mind and darted back onto the road. Taking a cue from the driver in front of us, we also proceeded very carefully, wanting to be alert to any sudden movements on the part of the bird.  As we slowly drove forward, we glanced to the right in order to see if we could spot the goose. There he was, sauntering across the spacious lawn, joining his rather large gaggle of geese who were lazily munching the grass. Our goose was home, safe and sound, thanks to the careful and watchful eye of the driver in front of us. 

As I reflected on that exchange before me, I realised that I have frequently seen drivers slow up and wait for ducklings, squirrels, dogs or some other animal who might wander across the road, oblivious to the potential dangers. Sometimes, the animal is lost or hurt. Occasionally, the animal might just be frightened or disoriented. Recently, my neighbor lost her little dog. The dog had wandered out of the house, and just seemingly disappeared. My friend searched for hours, to no avail. She was heartbroken at the thought of never seeing her beloved pooch again. Later that evening, the phone call came. A stranger had spotted the frightened dog on the road, just a few blocks away, stopped and scooped it to safety. The good samaritan took it home, checked the tags and finally located the owner. 

As I thought about the many drivers who are careful to safeguard the animals who wander in front of them, especially the driver in front of us who protected that Canadian goose, it brings to my mind the image of the Good Shepherd. The Lord watches out for each of us just as those benevolent drivers protect the wandering and lost animals which come across their path. The Lord protects us as we sometimes wander aimlessly through life, or when we lose our way as we often do. Lovingly, he watches out for us. Even when we appear to be safely “off the road,” He remains on watch lest we wander into oncoming traffic again.  As promised, He is always there for us, watching and waiting. The Psalmist (Psalm 139) reminds us that no matter where we are, no matter where we wander the “Lord’s hand would still be guiding me.” 

This encounter between the goose and the driver was a lovely experience to behold. It seems to me that the episode of the driver and the wandering bird was easily a metaphor for the way in which the Lord cares for us. As we ramble all over, to and fro, sometimes wandering aimlessly, God is there, watching and waiting. Are we not worth more than hundreds of sparrows? 

All I have to do is keep my eyes and ears open and my imagination alive so that I will be able to recognise the many ways in which God manifests Himself to me in the everyday experiences of life. 

“He is like a shepherd feeding His flock, gathering lambs in His arms, holding them against His breast.”

Isaiah 40:11

“Every happening, great and small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us, and the art of life is to get the message.”  

Malcolm Muggeridge, 1903-1990. British  journalist and author.   

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