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Stop signs and flashing lights preside over busy intersections. Commas and semi-colons mark the collision of clauses. Wouldn’t it be lovely if there were some ready marker or built-in gulp of air at the major crossroads of life?
Kelly Chripczuk began living the transition from ten years in full-time mothering mode when her youngest children went off to school. “Who will I be,” she wondered, “in the face of so much open time and space?” Chicken Scratch: Stories of Love, Risk & Poultry is a thirty-day record of Kelly’s vital signs in the early days of this transition, because one of the first things Kelly did to mark the beginning of her new listening-to-life is to buy ten laying hens.
She soon realized that chickens (like children) are inconvenient. They get out when they are supposed to stay in. They are uninhibited with their bodily functions. Even so, we welcome them into our lives as a reminder that we also are inconvenient at times, and that we refuse to bow down to gods of convenience or efficiency. Convenience and efficiency are not the boss of us.
In Kelly’s longing to join the psalmists at the “intersection between heaven and earth, writing, singing, and praying from the very center of their lives,” her chickens became a symbol for a way of life that was spacious, rooted in nature, and that demonstrates the truth that “there’s no arena of life in which God is not able to be known.”
With equal measures of self-deprecating humor and here’s-what-I-learned wisdom, Kelly shares stories that kindled within me a deep thankfulness — for the fact that tools and bicycles now inhabit the hen house on this country hill, but also for the glorious reality that life with critters is helping me to see that there are “different ways of being.” I can’t control our family’s pet St. Bernard’s predilection for using window sills as a handy chin rest, and maybe that’s a good thing because, as Kelly points out, “there’s only so much you can control.” I need that reminder in as many different contexts as possible.
As she grows deep roots into the person she is becoming, Kelly expands her heart around the ache of life and death (after all, things happen to chickens), and, in the process, she gains a heart that is more open to joy. In the day to day experiences of love, risk, and poultry, she begins to find the courage to live the life she loves.
This book was provided by the author in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”