In my last post I told the story of abandonment, of giving up: the story of the danger of walking away from what we dream to be possible, too soon.
Our brooding motherly hen, up and walked out on her eggs and – it seemed- all hope was lost. It was my son, Jonathan, who held on to hope. He carried in his heart the flickering candle in the night that somewhere, in the places not seen, deep inside the eggs, life still waited, and the risk of hoping against the odds was worth it. At Easter we celebrate the trembling, bravery of hoping – against all odds.
You should know that as of today, seventeen (yes, seventeen!) of those abandoned eggs have burst open with life. And while I have no idea what we will do with a peeping pen of seventeen baby chicks in our basement for five weeks, I am filled with joy at this miracle.
Here’s what I’ve learned: When the hatching begins, the chicks come at once, within a few days of each other. I wondered how this was possible.
By my understanding, the chicks would arrive a day or two apart, across a month or so, since they were eggs laid, one at a time, across several weeks. Wouldn’t they all mature and be ready for hatching in the same way, one at a time across the weeks? I was wrong.
What I learned was that fertilized eggs remain fertile, primed for life, until the conditions are right, until the temperature and movements of the hen (or the incubator) let the eggs know the conditions are right. The embryos begin to grow together, regardless of when they were laid by the hen. They remain primed for weeks, poised for life until its time for them to give birth to themselves.
The peeping that comes from inside an egg is a signal, a call to action for the clutch of eggs. When the first brave chick begins – chirping, squirming, chipping away at the shell to break free, the little chick calls to its brothers and sisters, soft and dark and still in their shells.
It’s time, they call out to one another, it’s time!
The chicks respond to the voices of their kin, and they too, begin the journey of being born.
This week, on April 17, the world lost the wonderful Gabriel García Márquez, a Columbian born literary hero and storyteller.
He wrote: “He allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”
As I watched each chick struggling to make it’s way into the world, giving birth to itself, taking up the grueling journey of being born, of making its way into the world, I understood something of what Gabriel García Márquez wrote in a new way:
Perhaps, without hope, we too remain poised for life, fertile and ready, but never truly born. As writers and artists and people with dreams, not only must we continue to hope, we must, ourselves, take responsibility for our hatching.
There’s no other way. It is an active process for a chick so fragile, to chip its way out. One would hardly expect it to be possible. But it is.
I also think there is magic in the way we call out from our shells, in the way we listen for the voices of others being born, right beside us – those with us on the journey. It’s not the sound of the hen that matters so much, it’s the hungry, persistent, perhaps frightened, peeping of those who are being born, too. This is how we know it’s possible, that we are not alone in giving birth to ourselves, that others, too, are emerging from their shells and there is life to be lived.
So this is my call out to others being born, too. It’s time, yes, it’s time!
I look forward to sharing the journey with you.