Yes, I know that probably sounds strange, but I felt the need to put that out there once and for all. The way I see it, chickens get the raw end of the deal far too often. Whether they’re being imitated mockingly in a ridiculous dance (especially humiliating when performed by elementary school children at roller skating parties) or being referenced when someone is too scared to do something (i.e. “chickens out”), this particular bird is the victim of much unnecessary and undeserved abuse. Do you ever see people making fun of the platypus? No! But even Wikipedia calls the platypus a “bizarre” creature. Seriously, who ever heard of an “egg-laying, venomous, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed mammal”? Now that’s something to laugh about! But who gets all the “fowl” jokes? The chicken. Pardon me while I flap my wings in contempt.
Fortunately, in my household at least, chickens receive the respect they deserve. For the last several years, my mom has had and acted upon her “chicken fetish.” Our kitchen is outfitted with chicken rugs, decorative chicken plates, and an assortment of porcelain and wooden chickens. We even have a few chicken cutting boards! (Which, yes, is a wee bit ironic). Most of these have been purchased at garage sales… and some of it has since been sold at garage sales. Sometimes I wish my mother would purchase some nicer chicken stuff, but, alas, no nice chicken-decor store exists. (Fortunately, though, if you prefer horses, there’s a down-home, rootin-tootin’ online country store that may tickle your fancy. Check it out here: http://www.countryoutfitter.com/decor) Needless to say, my family has a healthy appreciation for this fine feathered friend.
K-Seven (the Kanakuk Kamp where I work) also has a deep-seated love for chickens. A few years ago, the Kamp’s director Keith Chancey decided that a petting zoo would make the perfect addition to K-Seven. Ever since then, our kamp has become home to ducks, goats (even a fainting goat! But it was defective and only fainted twice. And I missed it both times.), and, of course, chickens. I should also note that our zoo included a rooster the first summer. Which may have been one of the worst ideas EVER. Each morning around 3 a.m., the rooster dreamt that the sun was rising… and began to cockadoodledoo nonstop for the next 4 hours. And if that weren’t bad enough, the petting zoo just happened to be located behind girls’ kamp, specifically behind the youngest two teepees. IT. WAS. AWFUL. Fortunately, though, they soon solved the problem—by sending the rooster to a different kamp. I couldn’t have been happier. If the rooster had stayed, I might have commandeered a bow and arrow from the archery closet…. Enough said.
In the first few years of the zoo, we had silky chickens, which just might be some of the funniest animals ever. First of all, they look ridiculous, kind of like a wet Jack Russel terrier badly in need of a haircut. And then they make the silliest noise, which sounds like a cross between a squawk and a hiccup. As if that weren’t enough, they can’t fly very well, so they resort to an awkward hop-and-flap motion. Basically, they are hilarious. I’ve spent a lot of quality time chasing and catching them. All in a day’s work.
But this summer, unfortunately, we didn’t get any silky chickens. Apparently, they were sold out by the time our reps made it to the store. So we got regular chickens instead. Eight of them. At first, they lived in the zoo, hanging out in the miniature coop that we built for them. But soon they discovered the world beyond their wired walls. And after that, there was no coming back. Even after the guys made the wall five feet higher, there was no stopping the chickens. Yes, they would occasionally roost there at night (usually perched atop ten-foot wall), but during the day they did as they pleased, roaming through the girls’ bathroom, wandering into the showers, getting stuck in the toilets (My little sister Rascal fished one out), pouncing on grasshoppers, wreaking havoc in the flower beds… These chickens were the epitome of “free range.” By the end of the summer, we didn’t even bother taking them back to their pen. Instead, I would greet them with a “Good morning, chicken” or a “Good evening, chicken” and go along my way. The only exception was on the Fourth of July when I kidnapped a chicken for the parade. Much to the delight of the spectators (and to the chagrin of my right bicep), I carried that chicken for the entire hour-long parade. Francesca, as I named her, was incredibly well behaved, only squawking occasionally and smiling for the photos. She even let me paint her nails a lovely shade of pink, so I could identify her later. But other than that, my relationship with the chickens was one of a coexistent, mutual respect.
So back to my original statement. Why do I hold chickens in such high regard? Well, the answer is simple: You can always count on them. That’s right; chickens are among the most dependable critters I know. Want to hear more? Well, cross to the other side of the road, and I’ll tell you about it.
You see, chickens lay their eggs every single day. Rain or shine. Snow or sweat. They always come through. They are consistent and predictable. Nothing fazes them, and nothing—not even another chicken claiming their nest—will get in their way.
I’m about to say something odd, so before you run around as if your head was cut off, hear me out: I think we should try to be more like chickens.
Here’s what I mean. How often do you spend time with Jesus? If you’re anything like me, your answer is probably “not as often as I’d like to.” In the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, it’s so easy to forget. It’s so easy to lose sight of the only One who matters. We get distracted with meetings, interviews, homework, appointments—the list goes on and on. Every day, Jesus waits for us with open arms, but all too often, busyness grabs us by the wrist and yanks us away. But it doesn’t have to be like this. If we can change our habits, if we can refocus our eyes on Jesus, this can change. And that’s where chickens can help.
Daily. That’s the trick. Chickens lay their eggs daily. We need to spend time with Jesus daily. It may seem tricky; it may be challenging at first. But it’s completely worth it.
So what are you waiting for? Crack open your Bible and see for yourself. You may even figure out which came first, the chicken or the egg. 😉