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JORDAN: Choosing love isn’t easy, but it’s worth it
Kasey Jordan - column
Kasey Jordan

My 8- and 10-year-old sons raise chickens, taking care of their flock of 45, and selling their eggs.  A lot of the chickens are skittish and don’t particularly enjoy interaction, but there are always a couple that do. Watching my 8-year-old cart around one of their favorites, Fluffy,  has always been a joy of mine. He doesn’t hold her away from his body because her feathers are stained with red Georgia clay. He holds her under his arm and talks to her as if she understands. 

Over the course of the year and a half that they have had chickens, several have died, with the most tragic being those caught by dogs as the chickens escape the safety of their pen to wander around and find the greener grass on the other side. 

There are also times of betrayal, like when a baby chick that they have raised from just days old turns out to be a rooster. Once the rooster starts strutting around and ringing out his cock-a-doodle-doo, they start carrying a shovel when they go into the pen, because inevitably, that rooster will fly up at them as he valiantly protects his ladies. But the boys are undeterred in their responsibilities of taking care of these pets of theirs and just learn how to position themselves to not be too close to a rooster. 

There have been tears and sadness through this process, but as I watch my sons, I see a genuine joy in them. I have seen them sit for an hour in a chair, just watching the chickens wander around and do their thing. I have also seen them doubled over in laughter as they watch the chickens for a “laugh-a-thon,” which is when they throw egg shells into the pen and watch the chickens chase each other around as they all seek a coveted piece of egg shell to eat (yes, kind of strange, but they eat their own egg shells and it gives them calcium for their future eggs). The boys commentate on the “athletes,” as a piece of egg shell switches owners and gets raced around the garden until another chicken snatches it from her mouth. The joy in their laughter is pretty amazing. 

There’s a lot to learn from their feathered friends, for example, the power of the pecking order. That is a real thing for chickens, and they all know their place in the order. Everyone knows the order of who gets to eat and if you work within the constraints of that order, you can save yourself a peck in the head. Chickens also make friends and are really social. If two chickens are friends, and one dies, the other will be a loner as they mourn the loss of their friend. Also, at night, when they sit on their roost in the coop, the chicken on each end of the roost is the watch-woman and she sleeps with one eye open to keep watch. They switch spots through the night to give everyone a chance to sleep safely. 

Just last week, one of the active watch-women, Fluffy, started to get sick. She is the chicken that my sons love to carry around.  She started not eating and drinking and wouldn’t leave the coop. This can be common behavior for a chicken going broody (which means she is about to start sitting on eggs to try to hatch them), so it took us a couple days to realize something was wrong.

One day as I went in, Fluffy’s sister Tufty was lying next to her, and I realized that Fluffy wasn’t going to make it. We set up a comfortable spot for her and started giving her water and Gatorade with a syringe to bring her back to health. But she didn’t get better. We dug a grave for her and my son carried her out, as he always had, with no fear of death, and a gentleness as he laid her in her final resting place.

As we talked about Fluffy and all the good memories we had with her, I had the realization that loving is hard. That in loving, we open ourselves up to pain and heartache because we do not have ultimate control over who will live or die or come or go or any of those other things that free will and the unknown of death brings us. But loving is still worth it. 

I think about how God does not make us love him. He gives us a choice, and in that choice comes the beauty of love. As I look at my life and the relationships in my life, I can protect myself and probably save myself a few heartaches, but oh the joy and richness of a life filled with connection and love.  

1 John 3:1 tells us “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God.” Now more than ever, the children of God need to shine forth His love. In a world filled with selfishness, distrust, fear and judgment, even amongst Christians, may we love freely and well, knowing that the joy and connection that love brings can shine through pain and sorrow and show the true nature of our loving God. 

Kasey Carty Jordan is a former missionary and resides in Monticello.