Monday, November 9, 2009

Learning from a chick...

So many times when working in nature I stumble over something that speaks to me on a soul-level. One of the benefits of working alone is that the job at hand has your full attention and simultaneously you have your thoughts. The work shows me things and engages me and sometimes there's a memorable conversation.

It happened the other day. Wally brought in a tiny cottonball chick that was looking very droopy. The mother hen is very young and not experienced in raising little ones. We had noticed that sometimes she's rough or negligent. This little peeper looked like it was left out in the cold.

I was hurrying through my chores so I could get out the door early to pick up the neighbor's dogs and open the doors of the vet clinic. I have nursed many a chick and there's no way to do it in a hurry. They need to be warm and have a little beak-full of water every few minutes. If you think they will get better by themselves they usually don't. It's that live, warm contact that makes the difference. I thought, "It's just a chick - I don't have time to take care of more" and then I didn't like myself. In that moment I changed - I decided instead to put my whole heart into caring for it and let the rest of what needed to be done just carry me on my way. So I made a soft little diaper from the sleeve of a t-shirt, lined it with a paper napkin, folded it around the chick and slipped the little bundle between my breasts. It was just the right fit, the little chick could breathe and was softly snuggled and I could keep a careful eye on it. It made little trills to let me know it was happy.

I worked in the clinic checking in the first rush of dogs and cats that morning and no one noticed my little patient. Wally and I came home and the little chick made a nest in Wally's chest hairs slowly making it's way under his beard. Our dog Lucy has always wanted a chick of her own and she lay between Wally's legs scooting up his stomach keeping close proximity to our peeper. Wally can cheep really well and he cheeped away at the peeper and Lucy. Though he had many things to do too, he chick-sat while I prepared lunch. Some twenty minutes later the little peeper became very still, closed its eyes and suddenly died. We were surprised! We were confident that he was getting stronger.

I'm glad we gave it a good ending. I'm glad for me too. I'm glad that I had the extra moment to re-choose to be tender. We can choose to do anything with our hearts engaged but it means slowing down, turning off the excuse-reasoning and opening into the mystery to make contact and attend to what is needed now. Life is not a problem to be solved. Every dimension of life, its gains and its losses, are opportunities that brings us closer to being more alive. It is a blessing waiting to be celebrated.

That's what the peeper told me.

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