SAUCIER — Between ebb and flow


I went for a walk the other day along a portion of the green belt near our house.

It’s a peaceful path, meandering past a football field, a children’s park, tennis courts and open spaces.

I like it because it follows a creek. Not a creek of my youth, mind you, with rippling graveled shallows, dark, cave-like turns through the woods, and mystery beyond every bend.

No, this one was tamed, paved for flood control, standing witness to our control of nature.

Still, it had water running, singing a soft song, an ode to its source and journey.

Then, something bright and round in the water caught my eye.

As I got closer, I could see that it was a soccer ball. Its pink, yellow and white colors shimmered as they wrestled for dominance.

Strangely, the ball was not floating down the stream. I thought that it was snagged, but I soon realized it was something far more curious.

As the topography changed and the creek deepened, there were drop-offs where the water tumbled down a 45-degree slab to a new stretch of bottom below.

The ball was at the base of one of those drops. Instead of drifting down the creek, it just sat there spinning.

The water coming down rotated the ball, and that motion was enough to counter the downstream flow.

It was never going to climb that ramp, but as long as the water kept running, it was going to stay right where it was, defying expectations and dancing in the light.

Like life itself, it was improbable that it should be there. Did it land like that, or did some unseen hand put it there?

I was mesmerized, and when I finally looked up, there on the other bank was a groundhog, lazing in the sun and watching it as well.

On my side, to my left, closer to me than I would have thought, was a robin. You never know what a bird’s eyes are looking at, but her head was pointed in the direction of the ball.

I don’t know what they experienced, but I do know that when I left that ball still spinning in the glimmering water, the sun was brighter, the sky bluer, the birdsong louder.

And the world was more hopeful.

The older I get, the less I know who God is, but the more I encounter intimations of God’s presence — sometimes even in a soccer ball.