My Life With Gracie…Immersed In The Joys Of Life

Immersed In The Joys Of Life

“Gracie, what do chickens think about death?” I asked. It had been a few days since we had our “We Are Not Sparrows” conversation, and I had been thinking over what she had told me as well as what she had not told me.

“What do you mean?”

“What do chickens believe happens to them when they die?”

Gracie looked up at the sky above us. There was a beautiful patch of blue beginning to show where the rain clouds had parted.

Maybe she wanted to find the right words to express something she felt needed no words. Maybe she simply lived out whatever the words were rather than trying to make her life fit what the words meant.

“It’s not something we worry and fret over, if that is what you mean.”

“Is there anything else?” I asked, not wanting to give up so easily.

“Those words are hard to find. Chickens don’t think about death the way most people do,” she said and then added, “But I have questions for you too.”

I smiled. (What else could I do?)

“Why ponder what death is about when we are right in the middle of all this life? It is everywhere around us. We are swimming in an ocean of life. Isn’t it much more important to understand what life is about?”

I thought back to all of the times I had seen Gracie and Bessie when they were young and exploring the world, completely immersed in the joys of life. Although she is older and more mature now, she has still held onto something which I had lost or given up long ago as a child.

“Surely a good understanding of life will hold the key to understanding death,” she said.

“So what do chickens think about life?”

“Those words are easy to find. Life is a gift. You cannot give it to yourself. It is given to you. Where there is a gift, there is always a giver. Life is a gift with a purpose, and that purpose is to make more gifts.”

She said all of this with great confidence, as if all baby chicks come into the world knowing these simple truths. Perhaps they do. Perhaps children do too.

“Life is a gift we were given so we can be a gift to our part of the world. If we busy ourselves in life with being a gift rather than receiving a gift, we have no time to think about what will happen in death.”

“So if everyone is busy being a gift and giving a gift…” I began.

“…Eventually the world will be filled with gifts from the goodness of life. There will be no room for anything else. Not even death,” she concluded.

“Gracie, that is a beautiful way of looking at life.”

“It is the chicken way of looking at life.”

Then, probably so I wouldn’t feel so bad for not being a chicken (or a child anymore), she added, “But it can also be a never-too-late way of looking at life.”

So when I receive this season’s gifts of crayon-scribbled cards and misshapen cookies made by little hands, I will enjoy them differently. They will also be gifts from Life seeking to fill the world with goodness until there is no room for anything else…except maybe just one more still-warm, ooey, gooey, chocolate chip cookie!

My Life With Gracie gave me hope that one day the world will be completely filled with the infinite goodness of Light and Life and Love.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated.

If the background looks familiar, you’re right. It is adapted from Vincent Van Gogh’s painting titled “Starry Night” which he painted in 1889. This and many of his other works always make me feel as if I am swimming in the joys of life because they are filled with the goodness of Light and Life and Love.

For me, Van Gogh’s art is an example of what this post is about. I wonder, did he perhaps have a chicken or two?!?

The Best Kind Of Love

The Best Kind Of Love

This is the last post in a short series about how Pearl has coped with the loss of her best friend, Blanche. The series began with this post if you want to start at the beginning.

Pearl called again more insistently. I went back to her.

“What is it, Sweetie? Are you okay?”

“Do you think those little fireflies are like that too?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean I have nothing to share with them. When I tell them jokes, they don’t laugh. I have told them my very-best-ever-never-fail jokes, the ones that had everyone else rolling on the ground with laughter. Once Blanche was laughing so hard she laid an egg right in the middle of my joke. But the fireflies don’t think any of my jokes are funny at all.

“But when I cluck, ‘Bawk. Bawk. Bwawk-a-Bock,’ they make a ‘Blink. Blink. Blink-a-Blonk’ with their lights.”

“Yes?”

“And when I cluck, ‘Bock. Bwawk-a-Bwawk. Bock. Bock,’ they make a ‘Blonk. Blink-a-Blink. Blonk. Blonk’ with their lights.”

“What do you think that means, Pearl?”

“I think it means, I hope it means, they love me even if they don’t understand my jokes.”

“Do you feel the emptiness in your life being filled, even if just a little?”

“Yes, I think so.”

“Then that is certainly love. And the best kind of love. They love you with the same kind of love Blanche had for you.

“They don’t love you because you told them a funny joke. They can’t understand your jokes. They love you because you have nothing to share with them except your heart. They can understand the goodness of your heart. It’s all they need to know. That’s just like Blanche.”

“Why do you think the fireflies didn’t show up until this summer?”

“Maybe they have been here all along, but you never noticed them before. Sometimes things are that way. They are beautiful. They are like tiny little miracles, don’t you think?”

“Yes, and they are my friends.”

“They absolutely are.”

“And they love me no matter what.”

“They absolutely do.”

“And you are sure?”

“I absolutely am.”

Her old smile began to return. She was fine to be by herself now without me because she didn’t feel alone any more. I stood and looked at her innocently hopeful face.

“You are such a pearl, my little Pearl.”

We said our final goodnights. She was happy now. As I headed back inside for the second time, I wondered what would happen when summer turned to autumn and the fireflies disappeared until their next season.

For now, the bawking and blinking would be enough.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

When There Are No More Jokes To Tell

When There Are No More Jokes To Tell

This is the third in a series of posts about how Pearl has coped with the loss of her best friend, Blanche. The conclusion will come in the next post. (Watch for the fireflies!)

“I still don’t understand. Aren’t you supposed to love someone because they are really good, or at least really good at something? When you are good and practically perfect, life is supposed to go right for you.”

“Blanche was good to you, wasn’t she? She did all of the right things when it came to being your best friend ever, didn’t she? But she has gone away from us even though she was as good as a good friend could be, even though she didn’t want to, and even though she tried her best to stay with us as long as she could.”

Pearl closed her eyes as if all this was too much for her, but she was desperate to make sense of what has caused many to stumble and doubt.

“Love wouldn’t have anything to do in a perfectly right world. Love is action. Love has to do something. That is why it’s never enough to say you love someone. Love has to do something, even if it’s just telling someone a joke like you do so well. Love fills emptiness. Love covers imperfection.”

She looked into my eyes, hoping what I said was the truth, hoping to find her most needed answer there.

“I am out of jokes and silly hats and silly anything. How can you still love me?”

“I love you all the more, Pearl, when you have nothing to share except your heart.”

Pearl was silent. She didn’t know whether to stand or sit or run away to find a distraction.

“Think about these things for a while. You won’t get them right away like the punchline of a joke. Most punchlines come easily when you are ready for laughing. But most life truths only come easily when you are ready for crying.”

Pearl nodded. She would think through these things in the privacy of her nesting box.

As I headed back to the house, I heard Pearl calling, almost desperately, but she wasn’t calling for Blanche. She was calling for me.

Each post shares a glimpse into my journey as a writer and illustrator. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!