Among last week’s challenges to keep us building our new life blueprint, we started “Franklin’s Makeover” by choosing one of 13 virtues that we felt needed the most work in our lives. In order to increase that virtue, we focused on finding as many examples of it in our own lives and in every aspect of the world around us. Remember, what you focus on, grows!
This week, we added a twist – we are all focusing on “Kindness,” over 300 of us from around the world, to see how often we can observe it, and therefore, how much of an impact we can make. So what exactly are we looking for? I went to William Bennett’s “The Book of Virtues,” a collection of stories illustrating the ten that he chose to highlight. Unfortunately, “kindness” was not listed in the ten, so I fell back on another favorite source, the dictionary.
“Kindness” is the quality or state of being kind. Don’t you love tracking down truth! How many ways does “kind” present itself? 1. of a friendly nature, generous, hospitable, warmhearted, good; 2. charitable, helpful, showing sympathy or understanding; 3. humane, considerate; 4. forbearing, tolerant, 5. courteous, thoughtful; 6. generous, liberal; 7. agreeable, beneficial. Since “compassion” was in Bennett’s list, I checked its meaning, and found that “compassionate” is a synonym for kind.
In the section on “Compassion” I found a quote from Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “Compassion is a natural feeling, which, by moderating the violence of love of self in each individual, contributes to the preservation of the whole species. It is this compassion that hurries us without reflection to the relief of those who are in distress.” From this description, perhaps “kindness” could be seen as a step in the direction of compassion?
By now you may be wondering what in the world all this has to do with chickens! Just this. I bought four chicks last fall, two of which were about a week or so older than the other two. One of the younger was smaller and I had to watch her for a few days to make sure she would survive. They were in a small cage away from the laying hens until they outgrew it, then were moved outside into a larger fenced corner of the pen.
As is the nature of chickens (very much like teenage girls, I think) the smallest one suddenly found herself attacked by one or more of the other three, lost all her little tail feathers and had a bloody wound on her back. So into isolation cage she went, still in the bigger outside pen, but safe from the others. I tried letting her out after she’d started to heal, but she was hurt again, so back into her cage, while her “sisters” were set free to roam with the other hens.
One evening, several days later, when I went out at dusk to move her cage into the shed, and close the henhouse door, I found one of the other young ones sitting on top of her cage, keeping her company, while the other two had gone in with the hens. Can chickens be kind?
I’d never witnessed it before, in all the years I’ve been around chickens, but I believe “Red” (the largest and probably oldest of the four) demonstrated some measure of kindness that night. When it happened again the next night, I decided it was time little “Peeps” could safely rejoin the gang, and they have been thriving together ever since — I call them my Four Musketeers. Whenever I watch them enjoying their search for edibles in the field together, I am reminded of how God can illustrate His loving-kindness even in the least likely of his creatures.