Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Hen Zen

Pearl, soaking in the sun.
My hens are well-versed in the art of Zen. To them, every day is a good day--they eat, they rest, they tidy their feathers and scratch the earth optimistically.

This is not to suggest that they sit on their roosts meditating. But they definitely live in the moment.

I've always wanted to freelance and have time to write, so pursuing that goal has been a positive change. But even positive changes bring along grasping shadows. Doubt and worry, in my case. I worry about my daughters, or my family; worries about a difficult neighbor or expensive repairs.

This, I know, is human. Am I doing what I'm meant to be doing? Why am I not more disciplined about exercise? I worry that I’m doing a less than stellar job as a mom, or that I tend toward narrowminded-ness even when I strive to be the opposite. I worry about the state of the world, the depth of poverty, the people who need to be fed physically and emotionally. I worry. My faith falters, my human anxieties grow.

I’ve been reading a book by Alice Walker called “The Chicken Chronicles: Sitting with the Angels Who Have Returned with My Memories.” In it, she writes to her chickens, addressing them as “My Feathered Mysteries.”

She writes with such clarity:

“Sometimes, sitting on my green stool and lulled by your complete indifference to the consequences of your natural behaviors, I wish we were more like you. More relaxed with our breasts and bellies and our feathers (of whatever sort) and our heights and weights and how we toss our heads back to drink water…
            “You seem so clear about who you are. So certain that you are just right as you are, that for all your intelligence and maybe in spite of it, you never seem to need a second opinion.”

And that strikes a chord with me. I go to the coop wrapped up in myself, with my doubts about who I am, who I should be, how I should be... my worries about a thousand small things. Seeking the second opinions of those around me. Am I doing OK? I carry along the perplexities of life and spirit. And there they are, completely at home with their feathered selves, no doubts about the way they were made, what they are meant to do, how they are meant to be.

They just are

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