Monday, April 20, 2009

Hope in a Messy World

My brother is having surgery to have a large tumor removed, along with his kidney. This is the brother I haven't spoken to in years, the one I was closest to growing up, and the one who seemed to be headed down the most troubled road. Dealing with his emergency, and my mom flying back there to deal with his emergency, and my parents trying to talk and get along after all these years...

And then the dog keeps eating the chickens we got to lay eggs, so every night I'd hear that squawking and run out usually too late to save the chicken. Then I'd be picking up chicken pieces and see that the insides of something alive isn't really all that complicated. A few chunky pieces here, connected with some string. We really are all little earth machines, fully functioned, designed to keep going. Until a dog takes us out.

My connections to the people in my family, even the connections that are dusty and look like they are not functioning - are intense. After dealing with my brother for the first time in years, I went home and chopped some bushes out back. I was making a home for the chickens, trying to chop away a huge bush that had overgrown and then died, leaving a wall of dead sticks that needed a chainsaw. All I had was a pair of hand choppers. I found out that you can chop down almost an entire bush by slowly chopping the pieces you can reach until you get to the deep parts, the core. I kept thinking about my brother's guts, and how some doctor was going to be doing the same thing with smaller instruments. I thought about my mom's eye having a bleed, and all those little veins and branches that make up the blood supply to the eye. I chopped while the chickens watched me, poking around, and the dog sat nearby, watching the chickens. A comedic circle of life. Interior and exterior hacking.

All those sticks, the hacking seemed impossible. No way little old me could chop down an entire country of a bush. It would take hours. Days. Lots of scratches. But there was no one else to do it. So I had to keep going.

The kids and I had been trying to make a place for these chickens, even though they hadn't laid us one egg. Apparently I had the loser chickens, the ones that couldn't figure out what they were good for, and yet here I am hacking, just in case. We kept checking, every few hours, every day for that egg.

Today, not in the nest boxes we built, or on the hay we piled neatly, but in the pile of chopped bush, I accidentally saw the egg the new chicken laid for us. In the middle of the haphazard briars and branches. That perfect, huge brown egg. I left it there for the kids to see when we got home from school. By the time the kids got out there, the egg had a white egg next to - our other chicken had laid one right next to it.

There is hope in a messy world.