The circumstances are slightly hilarious...especially if you had seen it in person...
- Coyote attacks our chickens in the middle of the night. One chicken dies. Husband runs around house in boots and shorts with a gun before sunrise, seeking to destroy the predator. Dead chicken is used as a trap to lure the coyote back to be shot. Three year old finds dead chicken trap and asks, "What's wrong with my chicken?". Husband explains the predator vs. prey cycle. Chicken trap doesn't work. Coyote gets dead chicken without getting caught. Three year old's heart is a little wounded from the whole ordeal. So Husband takes girls on a date to get new chicks. -
Having chickens in the country kind of asks for early conversations about life and death, and cycles, and food chains. We know what we're getting into every year when a new batch of chicks find their way home to our little "farm".
But it's the unexpected conversations, as a mother, that catch me off guard. It's the expression on her face as she is told what happened. It's the sadness she feels for a chicken she helped feed, water, and gather eggs from everyday for a year. It's the fact that death is now a physical visual in her mind.
And as these little ones of mine continue to grow more aware of life around them, I find myself wanting to scoop it all up, take it away, shield their eyes, and shelter them from knowing any sort of death or pain...even in little incidents with country chickens.
As my husband brought in the new chicks they had chosen on their daddy-daughters date, I thought about the new life entering our home. I witnessed the spark in their eyes as they gently patted and held the little babies. I saw the delight as they all chirped in unison.
And I remembered...without death, there wouldn't be life.
In a literal sense, the death of one chicken allowed for a whole new batch of chicks to find a home. From these chicks, my girls experience the beauty of a life. They learn responsibility and gentleness. They watch with wonder as the chicks go through different stages. And when that first egg is laid, they will see the fruit of caring for life well.
The death of one bringing home the lives of many.
As winter turns to Spring, the trees awaken, fresh and green. The flowers bloom giving life to bugs and birds. Nests are laid. And rain brings nourishment. My girls witness green specks of life coming from the dust of the earth, bearing fruit for our little garden.
Death and decay nourishing new life.
And while the flowers and plants spring forward toward the sun. The life held in my belly twists and turns into position. Months turn into weeks. And another baby girl gets ready to meet the world, as a season of preparation and anticipation is laid to rest.
The death of a cherished season bringing forth sacred life.
My girls hear of the death of their Savior on a cross. They are told how He died, how He took on the sin and shame of the world for us, and how He was laid to rest in a tomb. But they are also told of the Savior who defeated death. Rising victoriously, bringing forth eternal life.
Death defeated, grace abounding, the gift of life eternal.
In my best attempts, I cannot shield them from the absolute of death and sadness. I cannot keep things the same forever, and each stage must be put to rest.
Innocence will give way to experiences, and shelter will open it's doors to knowledge. Seasons will change, bringing new responsibilities and challenges. But through the death of one season, a new season awakens and blooms.
Death brought life, as a daddy took his girls to the feed store, bringing a box of little yellow chirps home.
Death brought life, as the dormancy of winter budded into new growth.
Death brought life, as a womb holds life for the last time, and a season of four turns to life as five.
Death brought life, as the stone rolled away, linens were folded, and a familiar voice spoke Mary's name.
Without death, there wouldn't be life.
That little three year old now knows the reality of death. It is defined in her mind by what she has seen. It is final. It is sad, and it hurts.
But just as she knows death, she also knows the reality of life. She finds wonder in it. She is inspired by it. And that sparkle, that zest, that appreciation for life is ever-present and ever-beautiful.