Terrorist Attack in The Henhouse

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It was a terrorist attack like none I’ve ever experienced.

Yesterday morning, my friend, George, phoned me to tell me some bad news. When he had gone down to the henhouse to feed the hens, he found dead chickens strewed all over the lower pasture and in the henhouse. Feathers were blowing in the wind everywhere. When he began picking up the carnage, he discovered that most of them were intact except for their heads. Whatever had killed them had done it for the sport of killing, not for food. The total count of chickens who had been killed was 21, including the one rooster. The fifteen survivors were traumatized and jittery. George said that they didn’t flock to him when he took them their morning feed, but ran away from him.

“What about Grace?” I asked him hesitantly, thinking about the little hen that meant so much to us.

George paused a few seconds, and then said, “Grace didn’t make it. I was hoping she was ok, but then I saw the green leg tag. I didn’t want to have to tell you this.”

My eyes filled with tears as I thought of my special little hen, the one who taught me so much about grace and gratitude last summer. I couldn’t stand the thought of her being terrorized and running for her life from some unknown terrorist predator. My heart was broken, not only for her, but for the others who had died that night.

He told me that it looked like the hens had been running everywhere, trying to escape whatever it was that was after them. He found bodies in the henhouse, out on the woodpile, near the barn, and in the pasture. None had been mutilated or eaten, other than some of them missing their heads.

There were no eggs yesterday. The remaining hens were recovering from the night of terror. George gathered them up last night and put them in an enclosed stall in the barn where he had kept the baby chickens last spring until they were big enough to join the flock. He knew they would be safe there.

This morning, we were greeted by clucking coming from the barn, and when I went into the stall, there were eight eggs in the nests. It was as if nothing had happened. Life goes on, even for hens.

As I walked across the pasture, looking at the feathers littered everywhere as a reminder of what had happened, I thought about how senseless this was. These animals weren’t looking for food. They weren’t hungry. They were just plain mean, wanting to do nothing more than kill for the sport of killing, attacking in the dark of night, and then moving on, leaving only death and destruction in their path. It reminded me of the human terrorist attacks that have been happening around the world, and it made me sick. To me, there seemed to be no difference between these animals and the human animals who kill other people for no good reason at all.

I don’t understand it, but then there are lots of things about life and living in this world that I don’t understand. One could say that it is nature’s way in regard to the animal terrorist behavior, but I can’t accept it as an excuse for people doing terrible things to other people. Terrorism isn’t nature’s way for us as God’s children. Animals don’t know any better.

But we should.

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“Gratitude Turns What We Have into Enough”

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This was the subject line of an email I recently received from The Chopra Center. I am crediting this quote to Deepak Chopra, but I can’t be certain it originated with him.

As I was thinking about my annual Christmas letter, I couldn’t for the life of me come up with something I wanted to share with my friends and family this year. Then I saw this, and – amazing! – there it was. In an email!

In July, I participated in a three-week guided meditation, hosted by Deepak Chopra and Oprah Winfrey. The theme of the daily meditation series was “Manifesting Grace through Gratitude.” It was one of the most meaningful experiences of my life, highlighted by an incident that brought home what grace and gratitude is all about. For those of you who read my blog, you know about Grace, the hen. In brief, Raven, the horse, stepped on her one afternoon during the time I was engaged in these meditations. When my friend, George, told me what had happened, I ran down to the chicken coop to see for myself. She was badly injured – we didn’t know how seriously – but she was unable to stand on her own. One of her wings drooped to the side next to her body. This sweet little hen was on the ground beneath the nests, unable to move. George had placed her in one of the nesting boxes following the accident, but she had fallen out. I scooped her into my arms, held her close to my heart, and began stroking her and talking to her. Through my tears, I told her what a special girl she was, how much we loved and appreciated the eggs that she lay for us each day, and assured her that Raven hadn’t meant to hurt her. I thanked her for being a good little hen and placed her gently back into the nest for the night. I left reluctantly, not knowing if she would survive the night. After I got home from George’s house that evening, I burst into uncontrollable tears, which wouldn’t stop. I was heartsick about this fragile creature, and wanted more than anything to make her well again. I prayed that God would take care of her through the night. What I didn’t know was that after I had left, George took an old dog kennel and fixed her a safe place, lined with hay, to stay in his garage. Over the next few weeks, we took care of Grace, as I had named her the day after the accident. Slowly, she  began to heal, fashioned a nest in the hay, started laying eggs, and began to softly cluck again. We watched her and cheered her on as she struggled to stand and to balance with her wounded leg and drooping wing. Finally, after about three weeks, she was able to stand on both legs without falling over. The day we took her back to join the flock was another day of tears for me. Happy tears, this time.

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As I embark on this Christmas season, I am reminded that I have enough. Little Grace, the hen, taught me what true gratitude is all about. Even though Grace was badly injured, she continued to lay eggs for us. Grace didn’t have much – she had no possessions to call her own. But she had George and me to take care of her. And she did what hens are supposed to do. I know she doesn’t feel gratitude for what we did for her, but I am eternally grateful for the lessons she taught me. What I have is enough. I don’t need more.

And with this thought, I wish each of you a Christmas filled with grace and gratitude.

It is enough.

 

A Little Hen’s Lesson on Grace and Gratitude

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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.

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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.

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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.