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!