The Goose

By Clark Haken - April 2009

Morning is my favorite time of day.  As a general rule I am outdoors enjoying my first cup of coffee long before 6:00am.  The birds begin singing around 5:30am just as the sky begins taking on its morning colors.  Several days ago I was outside watching the daylight arrive when a flock of swans flew over my backyard.  Barely above the treetops, the magnificent creatures slowly flew directly overhead so I was able to enjoy them for almost twenty seconds before they were out of view.  Within the perfect V-formation of swans was a lone Canada goose.  I smiled to myself as I watch the goose surrounded by its much larger cousins.  Not only was the goose dwarfed by the swans, it also had to work at both keeping up with the rest and to keep its place within the flock formation.

In the days that have followed I find myself thinking about that goose.  What was it doing with the swans?  Why would a goose want to travel with a group that spoke a different language?  And why work so hard just to keep up with the rest?  Why not fly with a group of geese who travel at the same speed and speak the same language?  I wonder if the goose felt like a misfit.

Although I can’t know if that goose felt like a misfit, I do know that many of the people living around me feel like misfits.  I continue to be amazed at the stories I hear from people coming through the ATLAS doors.  Over and over I listen to people pouring out their hearts and more often than not, hear them saying things like, “Why me?” and “Nobody understands what this is like.”  As our conversations continue it becomes clear that many people honestly feel they are alone in their battle and surrounded on all sides by fellow citizens and neighbors who’ve “got it all-together”. . . whatever that means.

When I hear someone claiming to be a misfit or feel alone in their battle I enthusiastically tell them I’m in the same boat!  Most of us feel all alone out on that limb at one point or another.  Regardless of the situation, we at ATLAS extend our hand in the hope it will be grasped by someone who is hurting emotionally, relationally, physically or spiritually—by someone who desires a better life and lasting change.  We want to walk with those individuals, couples and families on their journeys.

ATLAS is not a place where all problems are fixed.  Rather,    ATLAS is a place where people who are hurting can come to unload, to vent, to pour it all out.  We are good listeners and cherish the opportunity to be a listening ear and shoulder for others to lean on.  ATLAS provides a welcoming place of contact where needs are assessed and resources provided to meet those needs and develop life skills.  We readily refer to and work with other local helping organizations and professional services as needed, provide connections to local churches, and most importantly, share Jesus as the way to a better life and lasting change.

ATLAS Board Members

  • John Van Diepen - President
  • Deb Kosters - Secretary
  • Gary Hielkema
  • Steve Swensen
  • Brad Jensen
  • Peg Van Kley
  • Kathleen Osterman


955 2nd Avenue
Sibley, Iowa
(712) 754-4311
Fax: (712) 754-4337
Hours: Mon-Fri 9:00-5:00
Jun-Aug: Closed Fridays