It wasn’t the dying baby chicken that pushed the tears on out and sent them spilling –on again, off again- all morning.
Or maybe it was.
I’d never had a chicken of my own before.
They stink, really.
But in the big cardboard box, there she wobbled, one third the size of the other five, and my heart went out to her.
I named her Emily.
Silly, they told me. To name a chicken.
She was one of our meat chickens.
Raised for the auction.
Headed for the fair.
Destined for the freezer.
I knew all that.
Still, I named her anyway.
And when she seemed a little cold I wrapped her up and put her on my chest as we watched a movie.
They laughed and called her Edible Emily and said I couldn’t keep a meat chicken for a pet. Told me to claim one of the layers out in the coop.
I can too keep a chicken if I want.
And after that, she was just Emily, Mom’s chicken.
Isn’t there a little fragile in all of us…a fragile that needs to be held close to a big and strong warm chest?
She was so small the other chicks would trample her so we put up a divider in the pen and don’t we sometimes get trampled most by our own?
The ones that look like us, talk like us, do the same things we do…aren’t they the ones that sometimes forget to look where they’re walking and in doing so, they sometimes walk straight on over us?
My friend with family that’s breaking her heart…
…the quiet person at church who’s attended for years but still leaves feeling lonely and outside the happening group…
…the mama who feels unappreciated and invisible in her own home…
…can’t we sometimes feel crushed by those we share this life with?
So when I greeted the day and the strong legs were replaced by a wobbly heart, sad over the weight of it all, -the weight that crept on over winter and made the clothes tight, the weight of a too-short summer filled to Fall with farm work needing done, the weight of yearning for a day…a break…some time…some attention- it was easy to let weighty tears slip on out when I saw my chicken was hurting and I asked my husband if he wouldn’t please end little Emily’s suffering.
One little three dollar chick, dozens just like her at the feed store, one of forty-two critters here on our farm…and the snot is running like I’m saying good bye to an old friend.
Just a silly chicken.
But don’t our red letters say not even a little bird falls without our Father in Heaven knowing it?
So when my men folk take my weak bird and tenderly and mercifully send her into eternity, somewhere my heart stirs and I know that my Father knows I’m wobbly today like my chicken.
As they bring me to her grave and I look at the cross in the ground constructed by my son in honor of my chicken, -two sticks and some duct tape- I’m reminded that one day the burdens that crush on the days that we’re weak will be no more…and I’ll be in my eternal home.
I’m reminded that, on hard days, days like today, I don’t have to carry the weight.
He carries it all.
I’m reminded that because He carries it, my legs can stand up and walk strong.
That I may be just one of a huge flock, but He knows me.
He knows you.
We are not invisible.
We are growing strong.
And someday soon…
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. ~Jesus
Thank you for the lessons sweet Emily, Mom’s chicken.
June 5 – June 19, 2014
More posts about the small critters round here: