Who’s Your Goose? Loving the Stinkers in Our Lives

Spring is here, y’all. Regardless of the snow on the ground after being in the 80s last week, spring is here. There are a few signs of it: fat Robins wobbling around, squirrels frisking at the park. And the return of the geese.

Geese and I have a dislike-indifference relationship. I dislike them. They are indifferent. In fact, if you ever meet an animal more indifferent to the attitudes of a dominant species, I would like to know about it. In the words of Creed Braxton: Geese “don’t give an f about nothin’.” Something like that.

A couple weeks ago, my mom was visiting from Alabama and the younger girls and I thought it would be fun to take her to a nearby path surrounding a small lake, just for a walk. (It’s hard to write that sentence without it sounding like she’s a dog. How does one take one’s mother for a walk without it sounding like she’s a dog?)

Now that the trumpeter swans had taken off, it was pretty clear who was in charge. The geese rule that lake. Geese essentially rule wherever they are. Hereafter I will refer to them as “stinkers.” Double the vulgarity of that word and you will get a ballpark idea of the names I really call them.

So when my mom said they were really beautiful, I was quick to point out that they are pretty mean. They are aggressive, they poop everywhere, they bully the ducks, and they stop traffic by standing in the middle of the road for as long as they dang well please.

But still we watched them swimming peacefully, here and there dipping their heads underwater; gliding serenely back and forth, far and near. And nearer. And nearer still.

Panic. The girls and I, still traumatized by a situation years ago when those little <stinkers> chased us down the walking path, hightailed it away from bank. We ran to the path. “Let’s go!” we shouted and urged my nonchalant mom, who couldn’t see what all the fuss was about.

“Those geese are real <stinkers>,” I said. “They’re mean.” We told her our harrowing tales of nasty encounters with the birds. She shrugged and followed.

Further down the path, we saw a young guy walking up from a dock. He had bread in his hands and it was evident that he had been feeding ducks. As he walked away from the dock, he was trailed by a small gaggle of geese.

“Oof, he’s in for it now,” I said. “They’re gonna go after him.” The girls were mesmerized as the man sat down. It was like awaiting a train wreck and wanting to see the carnage firsthand.

“That goose just ate out of his hand!” one of my girls whispered in excitement.

“What? No,” I said, doubtfully. But my eyes were fixed on the man now. Sure enough, he was sitting on the bench and the geese waited around him for their food. I would say they were almost patient. And suddenly they looked kinda cute.

Listen, I’m not saying I like geese now. I’m not crazy enough to surround myself with the stinkers and act like I won’t get pecked to a grisly death. But, I dunno, maybe they aren’t always terrible. Maybe I can value them for more than just being an important part of a healthy ecosystem.

Maybe there are people in my life like that too. I have to think that my reaction to that man and the geese wasn’t altogether different than the religious leaders’ reactions to Jesus befriending sinners. They probably had a long list of unsavory words for the prostitutes, drunkards, and tax collectors. “They’re nasty and mean. They don’t care about anyone but themselves.”

And then Jesus offered kindness and love, and eyes were opened.

Who’s your goose? Who’s that person that grates on you? They are mean or gross, or just annoying. You can regale people with the tales of ugly encounters you have had with them.

I’m not saying surround yourself with that person, but maybe when you encounter them you could extend some grace–a little taste of the love Christ showed to us <stinkers>. Pray for them until then. Ask God to open your eyes to the despised around you, and to give you the courage to reach out in love.

Then prepare yourself for Him to show you something beautiful.

“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭6‬:‭35‬-‭36‬ ‭ESV‬‬

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