After work today, I went over to my friend, George’s, house for an after-work glass of wine. As we were sitting on his outdoor swing, he told me that one of his hens had been stepped on by Raven, the horse, earlier today. He didn’t know how badly she was hurt, but hoped that she would be ok. He had picked her up and carried her to the hen house after it happened.
Of course, I had to put my glass of wine down and head for the hen house to check on the little injured one. The other 20 hens were happily clucking and scratching in the pasture, and followed us as we made our way down to the hen house. There she was, on the ground, inside the pen. She didn’t acknowledge George as he entered her space, while all of the other hens followed him like he was some kind of Pied Piper.
While George went to the barn, followed by all 20 of the healthy hens, to get some scratch feed to throw out to them, I went over to the little hen and picked her up. She didn’t object, but let me gently hold her close to my heart and stroke her sweet little back. I felt around her body to see if I could detect any broken bones, but I am not a chicken expert, and I couldn’t tell how badly injured she was. She didn’t object, though, and nestled her head against my chest. I instinctively knew that she was hurting, although there was no way for her to tell me. I held her close and talked to her. I told her what a good little hen she was and how much we appreciated all of the eggs she has laid for us this past year. I thanked her for being such a loyal friend and a good hen. I also told her that Raven didn’t mean to hurt her, that is was an accident. As I lovingly caressed her and spoke gently to her, I thought about grace and gratitude that I have been concentrating on for the past three days in the meditation program that I am participating in. It all came home to me clearly as I held this sweet little hen in my arms and prayed for her to get well.
With tears streaming down my face, I placed her into one of the nests. George brought over some scratch feed, and I held it out to her in my open hand. She eagerly ate all that I had, and then drank some water from a cup he brought for her. I didn’t want to leave her, but knew there was nothing more tonight that I could do. I petted her for a few more minutes, wished her a good night’s sleep, and took George’s hand to walk back to the house.
My little hen doesn’t have a name. If she gets better overnight and is well tomorrow, I probably won’t be able to tell which one she is – all 21 of the hens look pretty much alike. She will just be one of the flock, laying eggs and enjoying scratching for bugs and other good things to eat. But if she doesn’t get better, I know that I did all that I could for her, and I left her in the hands of her guardian angel to watch over her tonight.
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring for this little hen, or for me. None of us know what is waiting for us in the new day. But one thing I know for sure – I experienced the true essence of gratitude and grace this evening as I held this sweet little bird in my arms and felt her returning my gratitude to me with all the grace God gave her to offer. I will say a prayer for her tonight and know that whatever happens, she is safe and secure in God’s love.