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Getting your Ducks in a Row

5 Part Series: Getting Your Ducks in a  Row 

1. Self- Worth
2. Ability to love and be loved
3. Ability to defend myself
4. Ability to deal with my own inner confusion
5. Ability to accept the consequences of my actions 

Introduction: Getting your Ducks in a Row

About a year ago, it was time for my mom to move out of the house that I had gone to High School in, and which she had lived for the previous 14 years.  There were a lot of memories in that house- it is the house where my Father passed away- it is the house that I “left home” from, and that I often returned to, to visit my parents, and our dog, Snuggles.  I did not name the dog- we adopted her.  Admittingly, she was a cock-a-poo, so while Snuggles actually kind of fit her, I am pretty sure she hated that name.  I would have named her Bone Crusher, or Megatron, after one of the Transformers if I had my druthers.  But I never have my druthers.  I am druther free.  No druthers for me.

Not the actual Snuggles, but close enough for our purposes

As we were in the process of moving mom out of her house, where she was by herself and only using about 20% of it, and into her condo, mom had a phrase that she liked to use.  Nothing could go on in life, until she got her “ducks in a row.”  There were many ducks to get into a row when we were moving mom- I know.  I helped move all those damned ducks with my brothers.  Actually, the ducks in a row thing become something of a joke between all of us and we often laughed about it.

When the moving guys came to move the big stuff that would have otherwise given my brothers and me back trouble and hernias, I remember looking out the window at the moving truck, and not thinking much of it.  Then I saw it.  There was a giant duck on the side.

Me and the duck- I look upset at the giant duck.

I pointed this out to my family, and we all shared a chuckle.  Mom said she didn’t hire them because of the ducks.  I am beginning to wonder.

At any rate, “ducks in a row” is a phrase that my spiritual director likes to use as well.  He says in that in our lives we have 5 basic psychological needs- five ducks as it were- that we have to keep in line if we want to live a happy and sane life.  The problem with these psychological and emotional ducks is the same problem with real ducks: they tend to wonder around and get out of line.  There is nothing worse, I imagine, than trying to wrangle up a bunch of stray ducks.  It is probably a constant struggle if you yourself are not a duck. 

In short, we are trying to get our ducks in a row all the time, or we should be.  I think a lot of people don’t try to keep their ducks in a row by good healthy means, but through things like trying to get the ducks drunk, or to feed them until they can’t move, or by spending lots of money on things they don’t need.  There is a lot of ways to try and cage the “ducks” rather than keeping them in line- but the catch in our lives is that not only do we have to keep our ducks in a row, we also have to do it in freedom- not by some artificial means.

So what are these 5 ducks that my Spiritual Director told me about?

1. Self- Worth
2. Ability to love and be loved
3. Ability to defend myself
4. Ability to deal with my own inner confusion
5. Ability to accept the consequences of my actions 

I think these are pretty good ducks, and a lot of the spiritual direction that I get from him concerns these ducks.

Over the next couple of days I will take each of these ducks and look at them in depth- both generally, and in terms of my own life… enjoy wrangling your ducks!



1. American Gladiators are Back!!!!! (The Third Duck: Defending yourself) « The Flabbergasted Philosopher - December 28, 2007

[…] Getting your Ducks in a Row […]

2. Matt Hoover - January 12, 2008

I have been trying to get my ‘ducks in a row’ also. I guess it is a life long journey. I do keep praying for you and for all priests. I don’t think we ever have it ‘all together’, rather we are much like the late Henri Nouwen describes in his book – Wounded Healers. It’s the fact that we don’t have things together that points us to rely on God’s grace.
I hope you are really doing well. I do pray that you can someday return to the active priesthood. Maybe we could catch a dinner and chat sometime if you want. I believe God has called you, and I hope you believe it too.
Pace e bene

3. Brenda - January 20, 2008

Hi Josh,
Your website is very impressive. You look waaaayyyyyy too young to have done all you’ve done! It is interesting to me that your spiritual advisor had “defend yourself” after being able to love and be loved. WHat does defend yourself mean?

From the note above this one, you are on your way out of the priesthood. That must have been a hard decision! It was certainly a hard one for me when I decided to leave the Catholic Church as a layperson. Are you scared?
My many life experiences — and a friend— have suggested to me to go into speaking…do you have any suggestions?

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