Hen Love, Acceptance, and Stillness
Love is a state of Being. Your love is not outside: it is deep within you…In the stillness of your presence…you can then feel the same life deep within every other human and every other creature…this is the realization of oneness. This is love.
~ Eckhart Tolle, Enlightened Relationships in The Power of Now.
These two. They exemplified Stillness. They portrayed Love. It’s so important for us to remember Stillness in times of stress, to remember Stillness when our thoughts run rampant with fear.
The hens had a scare last week. These two black Australorp hens are Mean Girl #1 and Mean Girl #2. They were raised together and when we got them, #1 was much more dominant than #2 (hence, the names). Mean Girl #1 is second in the pecking order, and is temporarily first when the dominant hen goes broody. Mean Girl #2 is one of the last in the pecking order. She’s a little slow, has to be shown to her food, won’t go after food on her own.
So what scared the Mean Girls? A black snake had gotten into their coop at night, after the hens had gone to bed. Just a little background – the black snake, non-poisonous good snake -is a regular summertime visitor. He’s on the hunt for a few free eggs, and, for his work in keeping our house mouse-free, we keep him around. If we see him around the coop, usually in the day time, we sweep him away with a broom and he slithers back to his home under the porch.
Last week, though, I heard the chickens squawking, clucking, making all sorts of noise late at night. I heard them from another room, over the sound of the television. That never happens. Chickens are generally catatonic when they sleep. Which is why if they are free-roaming or don’t have a secure coop, they are easy prey for fox, raccoon, and bear. They’re not going wake up until its too late (analogy for many of us in our life lessons?)
I ran outside (seeing no furry mammal as the problem) and opened the coop to find Mr. Black Snake snuggling awful close with Mean Girl #2 and Brown Chick. It was hen chaos. The rest of the hens literally “flew the coop”** but the two sort of trapped by the snake had some panicked moments. I opened the side panel and, finally, they were able to get out.
Well, Mr. Black Snake was eventually swept out the door and slithered on home. All the hens were spooked and wandered around, refusing to go back in. I left them alone (light on and careful watch out the window) and eventually all but the two Mean Girls went back inside and settled on their roost.
The smaller hen, Mean Girl #2, was still terrified. She shook. Her tail feathers shook. She burrowed into Mean Girl #1’s side, trying to get under her bigger companion’s wing.** I’ve never been particularly moved by the chickens or been sentimental about them. But these two hens, refusing to leave each others sides was amazing. Mean Girl #1 sat down with her on the edge of the porch. She stayed with her, and let the smaller hen nestle against her. Love. Acceptance. And in the rain, in the darkness, they sat. They stayed together in Stillness.
**Cliches come alive…”flew the coop” and “under [her] wing”…it really does happen.