One of our chickens has a dislocated talon. Terry and I tried to capture it for about five minutes, before our 3 1/2 year old walked up and showed us how it was done. He’s been creeping up on the chickens for so long (despite ALL of our efforts), they’re used to his amorous attention. Likely they think he’s a strange looking rooster about to begin a new genetic line. They hunker down and wait for whatever comes next.
My sons fabulous chicken embracing skills allowed us to examine and make pitiful attempts at getting the errant digit back into place. I massaged it, experimented with setting it right. The hen was inquisitive, but didn’t seem to mind our clumsy efforts.
When we accepted failure and headed back to the house, an exquisite jade-gray praying mantis alighted gently on Tadg’s shoulder. There were mystical designs along its back, as if carved by a master jeweler from the Green World. I took it as a blessing from the land, a sign of his connection to the creatures we share this place with.
This is how I got started in the first place, with animals. I wanted to find a way back into the Earth, deeper into an authentic spirituality. Twenty years ago all roads led to shamanism, they still do. I find myself relating to more and more animals, learning to listen with greater reverence.
How does a culture put the Earth back together after spending so many decades dislocating as many of its creatures as it can? How many generations does it take us to preserve the wholeness of a single child’s connection to the web of life that sustains everything? I ponder while my son dances with chickens.
I’d forgotten what powerful fliers praying mantis’s were. This one quickly left Tadg’s shoulder to fly two stories up to an oak canopy. A mantis has four wings, and is a somewhat ungainly flier when compared to the icy grace it embodies during a hunt. I’ll journey on the meaning of its visit, especially its flight.
The earth is always talking to us, in tiny ways and loud ways. We would listen more, but we’re otherwise occupied. We’ve been taught to think of the conversations going on around us as being irrelevant to us, as if we were strangers in our own lands. We turn omen’s into ordinary distractions.
The chance to reconnect with the animal world that not only feeds many of us, but helps us to deepen our spirituality, is always available to us. We just have to open our hearts to receive the gift. We are all worthy, we are all needful in our own ways.
Interacting with our domestic animals gives us a valuable entry into the animal world. Scaly chicken feet, a dogs inquisitive eyes are thresholds for many of us, first steps on bigger journey. The earth knows what each one of us needs to give, and how we must give it. It asks us to come forth with what is most true within ourselves and trade it for priceless blessings and broken toes. Look for signposts along the way, like jade praying mantis.