Chickens, Apples & Why The Church Has The Key They Need

My daughter and I are staying at an Airbnb in a nearby town this weekend. There's a large property with a pond, trees and chickens. There's room to move, wonder and dream.


We walked up to a large fenced-in space with 40-50 chickens and roosters. There was so much movement. Nothing was still. We saw mud, an overturned trash can, the sounds and smells of animals.


My eyes landed on a group of 5-6 chickens fighting over an apple. They took turns pecking at it, seeking a shred of juicy sweet fruit on this overcast chilly November weekend morning.


Sadness radiated from the circle of chickens.

Their desperation.

Their determination.

Their effort to get what they needed from that apple.



Then my gaze lifted. There were apple trees nearby. Full of fruit.

Abundance.

Plenty.


But the chickens didn’t know.


They couldn’t see the abundance

because they were locked in by a gate someone else secured.


They didn’t know they could be free.

They didn’t know abundance was available to them.

They didn’t know they were settling for life inside the fence.

They didn’t know that fighting over scarcity is an awful way to live.


Life was reduced to pecking an apple before their friends got to it.


Anyone else get the feeling this is how the church can be sometimes?


Maybe we’re those chickens.


We’ve been locked in by a gate someone else secured.

All the rules, expectations, traditions meant to give the church boundary

end up becoming the barrier.


There is ridiculous abundance all around us.

Opportunities to love, to forgive, to encourage, to receive, to trust, to embody grace.


And what do we do?

We peck at the one apple we think we have.

We cling to the way it’s always been because we’re terrified to imagine what could be.


Who are we if we let go?

Could we trust there’s an orchard on the other side of the fence?



You have permission to raise your eyes.

To imagine what else is beyond the wired gates.

To curiously gaze through the cracks of what you’ve known.


Because there’s an entire world out there

that hopes the story you’re telling yourself inside the fence

is true.


If it is true,

please look in your pocket

to find the key to the fence.


It’s been with you the whole time.

 

 

© 2020 by Jenny Smith

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