Today I was coming out of St France Hospital and as I crossed the parking lot I happened onto a momma duck who was frantic because her ducklings had all fallen into a drainage hole! As I arrived on the scene the Tulsa Fire Department was rolling up (pictured above) and they quickly removed the drain cover, lowered a man (head first) with a sack into the hole, and retrieved 8 baby ducks...
It was a beautiful sight as the baby ducks were reunited with their mother and she began to lead them away...
Hats off to the Tulsa Fire Department for duty "above and beyond" the call of duty. It was a wonderful scene to behold. Personally, however, I am hoping that momma duck will take a parenting class: first she leads her ducklings across a dangerous drain grid, then (after being reunited) begins to lead them across a busy street! Mercy!
I recently had the opportunity to attend a workshop on Solution-Focused Animal-Assisted Brief Therapy. It was taught by Teri Pichot of the Denver Center for SFBT and provided a wonderful introduction to the many ways animals can be a part of providing: service tasks for the disabled, emotional support for those dealing with life trauma and emotional pain, and assistance to therapists in a host of therapeutic tasks.
I joked with one of the workshop participants, (who directs an extensive animal therapy program) that the picture above was one of me attempting to do "goat yoga." I told her that I just couldn't get the goat to "jump up on my back." But, in reality this picture was taken last year while I was attending the Tulsa State Fair. One of my favorite places at the Fair is the "petting zoo" and I always have my picture taken with several of my friends. That's how I think of them and throughout the years I have had many of them...
Easter this year was a wonderful time of blessing. For the first time in 3 years it felt like the congregation was "back." Our attendance for Easter still wasn't what it used to be before covid-19, but it was definitely better than it has been in several years. Further, there was a wonderful spirit in our worship, fellowship, and proclamation. Our Choir and Praise team inspired everyone. There was a joy as people greeted each other and we welcomed some who had not been in worship for over two years. Though I often feel like I've "fallen short" in my preaching on Easter Sundays, for some reason this year my message just seemed "to flow." Many said it was the best Easter sermon they had ever heard me share. In so many ways the presence of the Risen Lord was felt. But there was another very special blessing that happened on this day...
We were finally able (after a 2-year delay) to hold our High School 50 year reunion. It was originally scheduled in 2020 but, because of Covid-19, we kept "pushing it back" trying to wait for a safer time. But last month our time for reunion finally came.. Graduates from as far away as California, New York and Florida were able to join us in Tulsa. We had 771 in our graduating class; 144 are now known deceased and over 150 were able to attend the event. Activities included a picnic at LaFortune Park, tours of the Gathering Place and the revitalized Greenwood district, and a concluding dinner and fellowship. All in all it was a wonderful two days.
I've enjoyed each of our reunions. "Tracking" friends that I have known for years (some since grade school) always brings me a sense of amazement. Some, who seemed so "behind the scene" during High School, went on to become prominent leaders and successful in business. Some, who were popular, smart, or excelled in athletics during High School, faced significant life challenges and struggles. Some, who seemed to have little or no spiritual interests during High School, experienced dramatic faith conversions and went on to work as missionaries, pastors, youth and children's ministers. (There were at least 7 who were ordained to pastoral ministry from my graduating class). It reminds me of the truth that life is hard to predict and we never really know what might be coming our way.
All of my classmates have turned 70 now. I have no idea whether or not another reunion is being considered for the future. But one thing I do know, one day there will be a reunion like none of us have ever experienced during this life...
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.