This mosaic of Christ as a mother hen is in a Catholic Church in Jerusalem. It illustrates Christ’s words, “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.” I love this image of Christ.
I inherited chickens when I was appointed to serve two small churches in rural northern California; they and the clothesline came with the parsonage. I loved having chickens and discovering that they’re very social as well as contemplative, they eat bugs and spiders, and they provide eggs to eat and to share. I was sad to leave them behind when we moved back to the Bay Area.
But I inherited baby chicks at my next church! Six of them were available at the end of the farmyard-themed vacation bible school, and I took them home and put them in the bathtub until we could get a coop. I’ve found some similarities between chickens and me. We both recognize voices and faces, we dream, feel pain, we are happier being part of a flock, and we can both be somewhat trained. We both love to spend time in in our nests doing what a friend calls “holy putzing” and we both create incredible messes. (This is a not-so-fun fact about chickens: the waste made by a chicken in its lifetime can make enough electricity to run a 100-watt bulb for five hours.)
I love having chickens but it’s the “mess” they make that’s the hard part… just as the mess of life makes the living hard. This time of pandemic has been messy (and challenging and overwhelming) but we’re learning new ways of being the church and of communicating – not just necessary information – but what’s in our hearts.
Our church staff (and the Worship Team and other volunteers) are using social media to keep us connected, and to provide food for the soul. On April 27, I’m starting a brief online reflection at 11am (Monday-Friday) called Chicken Feed for the Soul to talk about sheltering under the wings of Christ, holy-putzing in a time of sheltering in place, and life’s messes. I look forward to seeing you there.
In faith ~