Saturday, December 5, 2020

Ed and the Bucket of Shrimp - A Good Story


It happened every Friday evening, almost without fail, 
when the sun resembled a giant orange and 
was starting to dip into the blue ocean.

Old Ed came strolling along the beach to his favorite pier. 
Clutched in his bony hand was a bucket of shrimp.
Ed walked out to the end of the pier, 
where it seemed he almost had the world to himself.
The glow of the sun was a golden bronze. 

Everybody had gone, except for a few joggers on the beach. 
Standing out on the end of the pier, 
Ed was alone with his thoughts...
and his bucket of shrimp.

Before long, however, 
he was no longer alone.
Up in the sky, a thousand white 
dots came screeching and squawking,
winging their way toward that lanky 
frame standing there on the end of the pier.

Before long, dozens of seagulls had enveloped him, 
their wings fluttering and flapping wildly.
Ed stood there tossing shrimp to the hungry birds.
As he did, if you listened closely, 
you could hear him say with a smile,
'Thank you. Thank you.'

In a few short minutes the bucket was empty. 
 But Ed didn't leave.

He stood there lost in thought, 
as though transported to another time and place.
Invariably, one of the gulls landed on his sea-bleached,
weather-beaten hat - an old military hat he'd worn for years.

When he finally turned around and began 
to walk back toward the beach,
 a few of the birds hopped along the pier
 with him until he got to the stairs, and
then they, too, flew away.  
And Old Ed quietly made his way down to the end
of the beach and on home.

If you were sitting there on the pier with 
your fishing line in the water,
Ed might seem like 'a funny old duck,'
 as my dad used to say..  
Or, 'a guy that's a sandwich shy of a picnic,'
as my kids might say.. 
To onlookers, he's just another old codger,
lost in his own weird world,
feeding the seagulls with a bucket full of shrimp.

To the onlooker, rituals can look either 
very strange or very empty. 
They can seem altogether
unimportant ...maybe even a lot of nonsense.

Old folks often do strange things, 
at least in the eyes of Boomers and Busters.

Most of them would probably write 
Old Ed off, down there in Florida .
That's too bad. They'd do well to know him better.

His full name: Eddie Rickenbacker.
He was a famous hero back in World War II.
On one of his flying missions across the Pacific,
he and his seven-member crew went down.  
Miraculously, all of the men survived, 
crawled out of their plane,
and climbed into a life raft.

Captain Rickenbacker and his crew floated 
for days on the rough waters of the Pacific.
They fought the sun. They fought sharks.  
Most of all, they fought hunger. 
By the eighth day, their rations ran out. 
No food.  No water.
They were hundreds of miles from land 
and no one knew where they were.

They needed a miracle.
That afternoon they had a simple devotional service
 and prayed for a miracle.
They tried to nap.  
Eddie leaned back and pulled his military cap over his nose.
Time dragged.  
All he could hear was the slap of the waves against the raft.

Suddenly, Eddie felt something land on the top of his cap.  
It was a seagull!

Old Ed would later describe how he sat perfectly still, 
planning his next move. 
With a flash of his hand and a squawk from the gull,
 he managed to grab it and wring its neck. 
He tore the feathers off, and he and his starving crew made
 a meal - a very slight meal for eight men - of it. 
Then they used the intestines for bait.. 
With it, they caught fish, which gave them food 
and more bait......and the cycle continued. 
With that simple survival technique, 
they were able to endure the rigors of the
sea until they were found and 
rescued (after 24 days at sea...). 

Eddie Rickenbacker lived many years beyond that ordeal, 
but he never forgot
the sacrifice of that first lifesaving seagull.  
And he never stopped
saying, 'Thank You.'  That's why almost every Friday night he
 would walk to the end of the pier 
with a bucket full of shrimp and a heart full of gratitude.

Reference: (Max Lucado, In The Eye of the Storm, PP..221, 225-226)

PS:  Eddie was  an Ace in WW I and started Eastern Airlines!

PPS: Brother Eddie Rickenbacker became a Master Mason in 1922 in Kilwinning Lodge No. 297 of Michigan. He laid down his working tools in 1973. 

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