After erecting a fence down the middle of our large chicken run, we moved our flock of newcomers to a larger space – adults on one side, babies on the other. The grown hens had the area with their nesting boxes plus an outdoor spot, and the chicks had a protected place to spread their new wings. The two flocks could safely look at each other through the fence, slowly become friends.
But never underestimate the intelligence and determination of a usurped chicken.
The following day, after a busy morning away, we arrived home to find Madame Cluck, the bossy matron hen, on the wrong side of the barrier, harassing the babies. The chicks were frozen with fear and huddled in a heap behind a log. Returning the errant white hen to her side, we then spent the next hour building the fence higher.
Fences, walls, gates, are these negative terms to you? We’ve heard the adage “good fences make good neighbors,” but do they? Fences wall people out. We argue over property lines, isolate ourselves and erect them to say, “This is mine. Stay out.”
Although true, fences serve other purposes as well.
This month my email inbox has been overflowing. I feel harassed by the constant needs and requests. Just reading the mail, never mind responding to it, freezes me up like those chicks behind the log.
Deep breath and a question–Have I built my fence high enough?
Only I know how full my day, week or month already is. Who knows better than I which tasks fit my inclinations, and which require Herculean strength? I have the clearest read on how full or empty my battery is.
When the demands come, I realize it’s my job to build the fence and keep the gate. No one is more qualified. It isn’t anyone’s fault for asking me if I can help or being frustrated when they’re overwhelmed. Maybe, like me, they’re still building their fence, learning to keep their gate.
And it isn’t my job to save the day.
What’s required of me? I’m often brought back to this verse, “The mind set on the spirit is life and peace.” I’m learning to take the demands of the day to God in prayer, but most often I find He’s already answered. When something new comes my way, I have His presence within as my sense of life and peace. Outside, things might be rough and loud, but here it’s peaceful, protected.
When a new need comes my way there’s only one question I need to ask myself, Is there life and peace? If so, I can open the gate. If not the answer is, “I’m sorry. I can’t help this time.”
Have you built your fence or do the bossy hens still harass you? Are you growing in a place that’s safe and protected? Like those little chicks, we can eat and grow in peace and safety.
Do you remember the boy with the five barley loaves and two fish? When the Lord blessed and broke the bread, he fed 5,000. So, like that small boy, I offer up the lit bit I have, of time, of energy, or skill and then trust God to break and bless it.
The bossy hens concern me less and less these days.
The chicks are growing fast and will soon be adults. Today, I took one of the older hens onto the other side of the fence and let her wander with the babies while I tended their food and water. She pecked at the little ones a bit, but no one was hurt.
It isn’t time to put them together yet, but it won’t be long before the newcomers can hold their own. Then, we’ll take down the barrier and let them sort things out. For now though, they’re happily growing inside the safe enclosure, and every now and then I notice one of them glance with curiosity beyond the gate.