To teach this farmer a lesson about God’s loving embrace – the gift of freedom.
My husband and I, along with our children, live on a farm where we raise and care for horses, goats, Maremma Sheepdogs, a few furry senior citizens, and chickens. And it the tiniest of these creatures, in the most difficult of places, where I encountered God’s understanding of freedom. As an abused child, freedom is a word that has only ever created misunderstanding — even anger. Where is freedom among the beaten, dirty secrets that linger in the darkness? It waits in the shattered silence.
I realize this poem’s spark flickered in a way you’d least expect to encounter light, but isn’t that the beautiful nature of our Lord? It is in the natural happenings of life where he leaves a glimmer of understanding for you to carry forward – the light of Christ shedding upon darkness.
On our farm, all of our animals are free to move about the pastures – they are “free-range.” Now this can come with consequences for the smallest of them, and for this particular hen freedom meant death. In the spring, the hawks nest in the thick puzzle of branches that hover above our creeks. And, they do manage to kill a hen or two for their growing families. This is not a happy encounter for the farmer, and truthfully I probably need to seek reconciliation for my immediate reactions upon finding the kill. The choice words that are screamed back up into the overlying thicket are not as majestic as the fleeing predator for sure.
That is, until this last attack.
We count our chickens as they march into their coop in the evening for feeding, and this particular day, we were one short. I immediately knew why; although, honestly, you always hope you’re wrong. I took my companions, Ennio and Evelina (two large Maremma Sheepdogs) with me to find her. It doesn’t take long when two snoots hit the ground! She was lying by the creek. The scene was a bit serene — as you could see clearly what happened.
She had been leaning down to drink from one of the crystal-clear, cold creeks that run through our pastures. She never saw the hawk coming, as he was most likely waiting in the branches above. I’ve seen this many times — the hawk waits — then pounces with great force and talons the size of your fingers. The anger that accompanies this encounter was absent — what took its place is this poem:
Why did the hen
cross the road?
To remind a broken farmer
of the love the Lord shows.
You see freedom provided
has often proved a burden —
a curse upon a soul!
Why is such a gift even granted
to one who abuses its true roll?
Freedom doomed to another
can become a prison —
love has no comfort
for the unreasonable and forbidden!
I’ve left behind Your sweet love
unable to recognize —
sometimes it is beyond another’s choices
where freedom truly lies.
Now I am a farmer
with this sweet hen —
who died by the creekside
to feed a predator’s kin.
And down by that creekside
instead of weeping —
for an encounter with understanding
had been waiting all the while.
It is in the freedom
provided to faithful flock;
knowing risk accompanies
this gifted walk.
But, because of said love,
it is all I could provide —
the freedom to live
even if that means —
So, why did that hen
cross that road?
To remind a child of God
freedom is steeped best in woe.
And, beyond the hurt
accompanying gifted walk —
are tears of love in a creekside
as God gently sends forth His hawk.
Copyright 2017 Kimberly Nettuno