The Gift Of Listening

There are things my chickens will tell to anyone who will listen. Those are things like how difficult it is to lay an egg, how there is a hungry-looking cat taking too long to walk through our yard, or how there is a mysterious pair of eyes watching them from the darkness of the brambles.

These bits of news will get picked up and shared throughout our little block by the songbirds.

But my chickens do not tell everything they know, and this is one of their greatest gifts.

This is not a gift uniquely given by chickens. It is also a gift given by any of the animals we share our lives with such as dogs or cats. Sometimes it is a gift given by other people, though perhaps not often enough.

This gift went unnoticed and unappreciated until after Gracie and I had a long and private discussion.

“It’s not anything I’ve told anyone but you,” I said. “People don’t like hearing things like what I just told you. They want to talk you out of saying things like that, even when they are true.”

“We have always told each other the truth, haven’t we?” she asked softly.

“Yes, Gracie. We have.”

She leaned against my leg and thought over what I had just shared with her. Then she gently tugged on my jeans to let me know she wanted me to sit.

When I did, she settled in to the hollow made by my crossed legs. It was a place designed just for a chicken like Gracie, or so it seemed. It would also be a perfect place for a dog or a cat, if I had either of those.

“Sometimes I feel as if my life has been one big waste,” I had told her. “I’ve made too many mistakes I can’t correct. Like the ones I just told you about. I have nothing. Most of the time I feel like nothing. Life demands I keep on smiling even though so often I feel like crying.”

She laid her head and neck across my leg. It was so much like the way she had laid across Bessie’s back when they were just young chicks. This was all she knew to do, but it was enough.

The first leaves of Autumn swirled around us, beginning to build the season’s ground of death and decay. Soon there would be a moist, rich foundation for a new start and renewed attempts at growth.

Connected again to the world around me, I felt reconciliation had somehow occurred. To share your shortcomings is a scary thing. Yet to find love and acceptance in the eyes of another life, even when that life is covered with feathers or fur, is a very healing thing.

I write this because it seems at times people have lost their connection to the earth beneath their feet and the animals with which we share it. From there, it is a quick step to losing our connection with other people.

Be sure you have eyes, real eyes, in your life that look back into your own. Make sure those eyes let you see yourself as part of something far greater and more glorious than you can imagine. You are.

Those eyes may be another person’s. If so, you are fortunate.

Maybe those eyes are a dog’s or a cat’s. If so, you are more fortunate.

And perhaps those eyes are a chicken’s. If so, you are most fortunate indeed, particularly if they belong to a chicken like my Gracie.

My Life With Gracie showed me the precious gift of listening with unconditional love.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! By the way, if you detected a strong bias towards dogs and cats and an even stronger bias towards chickens, you are correct, but no slight is intended!

23 thoughts on “My Life With Gracie…The Gift Of Listening

    1. Thank you, Judi. As I was writing this, I thought of the times I’ve read what you’ve written about the times you feel especially connected to nature. (I am concerned at times about how technology often seems to be a barrier to experiencing nature.)

      “Touched by that encounter, I went back to my room. Immediately, as I sat down in my meditation chair by the windows, a female cardinal perched on the closest branch and looked at me, one eye at a time. When she flew off, two American goldfinches alighted next. Their feathered sunshine danced and flittered together until they both stopped to gaze back at my laughing face. When they departed I felt thoroughly in touch with Richard.”

      Perhaps my rewrite should include songbirds? They were my delight and comfort even before my chickens moved in to my backyard.


    1. Thank you. Yes, she is a sweetheart. She listens with unconditional love, and I think that is what our hearts need to receive and to give. Then we are most like who we are meant to be. Thanks again! John

      Liked by 1 person

  1. There is a place within many of us which carries great pain. But out of that place is birthed even greater, beautiful, marvelous creativity. Such is your gift of words and the ability to put those words together in sentences which touch the lives of others and transform them. The praise for a writer is limited at best. We plant seeds. A seed’s greatest work is done underground where we cannot see it. And yet, we hope for a harvest we may never see and certainly may never enjoy. We are never alone. Be of good cheer and keep fighting the good fight.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Ruth. As I was writing this, I was also thinking about all of the heart-to-heart conversations you might have had, must have had, with your Louisa. Cats, like chickens, know how to keep secrets. Best wishes and kind hopes for you. John

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! I too was pleased to find your blog as well. I enjoy poetry, though I don’t really do well at writing it. Often I will read a poem and then will be able to draft a story or sketch a picture with a similar tone and feeling. For me, poetry is a very good springboard, and Mary Oliver is one of my favorites. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m a bit behind with your posts at the moment, but hopefully things here are settling down a bit here again so I can grab a few minutes to start catching up. What I would like to say is that no-one who writes as beautifully as you, and brings so much pleasure to your followers, should be using the words ‘most of the time I feel like nothing’, even secretly to Gracie. There’s no point dwelling on past mistakes and I’ve done a lot of that over the years; but it’s a waste of time; what’s done is done. And anyway, mistakes, if you can learn from them, help shape the person you are now; hopefully nicer, wiser… better! I’m definitely all of that because of being nothing short of a ruddy idiot at times. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging words. I guess we all have our moments, don’t we? But you are quite right. We move on and appreciate how things in life have shaped us, hopefully for the better. Thank you again!


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