This past week, I was privileged to have Father Richard Kelley from Nashua visiting the seminary. On Wednesday, I had the morning and afternoon off, and he had a train to catch to D.C. Instead of allowing him to take the train, I drove him into the city, and enjoyed the morning walking around the Basilica . After lunch with Father Kelley, I made my way north to Baltimore in time for evening prayer.
As I got half way between Baltimore and D.C. I realized I had a good two hours to kill. A few moments later I saw a sign for the National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center (or something like that). The sign intrigued me, after all I had time. I sat in my car flying down the road, pondering should I or shouldn't I? Then, looking at the clock, and realizing I did not want to get back too soon, lest I have to do school work, I took the exit. After exiting, I drove a good four miles following the signs for the refuge, feeling like I was heading to the end of the earth.
Finally I arrived at the entrance to the refuge. As I drove down the 1.5 mile driveway, I was struck by the sheer beauty of the wilderness. Birds were everywhere. The trees were in full bloom, flowers and beauty surrounded me. It was 80 degrees,my windows were down and I had my shades on. It was a perfect day. As I admired the sheer beauty of God's creation, I could not help but to become overwhelmed. It was just one of the moments in which all is right in the world and things come together. As I swung around the final turn, I saw the refuge visitors center in front of me, and the parking and grass areas on the sides.
In front of the center itself was a huge marsh/river area teeming with life. Slowing my car I thought to myself, how could anyone want to harm our environment. As I quickly turned the corner of the parking lot, I looked ahead and saw a family in enjoying a picnic. They looked like a happy bunch, enjoying a day off from school, although I think they might have been homeschoolers. The kids were laughing and playing, and it reminded me of many family trips as a child. Then suddenly my beautiful day (the birds chirping, the laughing children) was interrupted by children crying, and covering their eyes. Not sure what was going on, I stopped the car. I was a little nervous because they were all looking at me. Then the oldest child, a girl of no more than ten years old, looked in my direction and said something that sounded like "he filled the smirle." Her words were followed by tears, as all of the children looked horrified by what they had witnessed. Suddenly, a family of crying children were giving me the meanest and saddest looks I have ever seen, I began to feel unwelcome, in the suddenly small parking lot. My happy I love nature moment was gone. I was beginning to get a sick feeling in my stomach as I realized just how close "filled the smirle" sounds like "killed the squirrel."
I began to become worried that picnicking crowd was going to turn on me at any moment, yelling "Squirrel Killer" and "Murderer." So I pulled back out of the spot and left the Wild Life Refuge, which I am afraid is currently short one of God's creatures. I am not quite sure what I missed at the National Wildlife Refuge Visitors Center, but I don't think I will be going back anytime soon.
On a side note beware of happy picnicking families, one small accident and they can turn on you quicker than you can leave the parking lot.
Until next time...