“Gracie, what do chickens think about death?” I asked. It had been a few days since we had our “We Are Not Sparrows” conversation, and I had been thinking over what she had told me as well as what she had not told me.
“What do you mean?”
“What do chickens believe happens to them when they die?”
Gracie looked up at the sky above us. There was a beautiful patch of blue beginning to show where the rain clouds had parted.
Maybe she wanted to find the right words to express something she felt needed no words. Maybe she simply lived out whatever the words were rather than trying to make her life fit what the words meant.
“It’s not something we worry and fret over, if that is what you mean.”
“Is there anything else?” I asked, not wanting to give up so easily.
“Those words are hard to find. Chickens don’t think about death the way most people do,” she said and then added, “But I have questions for you too.”
I smiled. (What else could I do?)
“Why ponder what death is about when we are right in the middle of all this life? It is everywhere around us. We are swimming in an ocean of life. Isn’t it much more important to understand what life is about?”
I thought back to all of the times I had seen Gracie and Bessie when they were young and exploring the world, completely immersed in the joys of life. Although she is older and more mature now, she has still held onto something which I had lost or given up long ago as a child.
“Surely a good understanding of life will hold the key to understanding death,” she said.
“So what do chickens think about life?”
“Those words are easy to find. Life is a gift. You cannot give it to yourself. It is given to you. Where there is a gift, there is always a giver. Life is a gift with a purpose, and that purpose is to make more gifts.”
She said all of this with great confidence, as if all baby chicks come into the world knowing these simple truths. Perhaps they do. Perhaps children do too.
“Life is a gift we were given so we can be a gift to our part of the world. If we busy ourselves in life with being a gift rather than receiving a gift, we have no time to think about what will happen in death.”
“So if everyone is busy being a gift and giving a gift…” I began.
“…Eventually the world will be filled with gifts from the goodness of life. There will be no room for anything else. Not even death,” she concluded.
“Gracie, that is a beautiful way of looking at life.”
“It is the chicken way of looking at life.”
Then, probably so I wouldn’t feel so bad for not being a chicken (or a child anymore), she added, “But it can also be a never-too-late way of looking at life.”
So when I receive this season’s gifts of crayon-scribbled cards and misshapen cookies made by little hands, I will enjoy them differently. They will also be gifts from Life seeking to fill the world with goodness until there is no room for anything else…except maybe just one more still-warm, ooey, gooey, chocolate chip cookie!
My Life With Gracie gave me hope that one day the world will be completely filled with the infinite goodness of Light and Life and Love.
Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated.
If the background looks familiar, you’re right. It is adapted from Vincent Van Gogh’s painting titled “Starry Night” which he painted in 1889. This and many of his other works always make me feel as if I am swimming in the joys of life because they are filled with the goodness of Light and Life and Love.
For me, Van Gogh’s art is an example of what this post is about. I wonder, did he perhaps have a chicken or two?!?