People don’t often think of animals as making conscious decisions. But they do. Last month I wrote about a chicken that had been injured and who was under the coop that night waiting for her death by predator or freezing. Ignorant of the Natural Laws, and loving the old hen, I coaxed her out from under the coop and helped her inside. The next day she seemed to be alive and well although still injured. She had two more days of being relatively active, considering her state, and appearing to enjoy her life out in the field with the flock. I was happy for her. So for two more nights I helped her back into the coop. But by the third day, she had obviously declined steeply. That night I once again helped her back into the coop. As I placed her in the coop, she turned to look at me as if saying, but not unkindly, “Insane human!”
The next day, my co-workers spotted her early in the day, partially hidden, way over in the bushes. I knew by that time that it was truly her time to go. So, although it was a difficult decision, I decided I wouldn’t look for her that night. I knew that she had made a conscious decision to go where I wouldn’t find her and that she had purposely hidden from me in order to die her own natural way. The next morning I found her there, in the bushes, frozen, finally having left her body in peace to move on to Happy Hen Heaven.
It was dusk, close to dark, the time of deepening shadows. The chicken yard was empty. I went out to close the chicken coop and was about to return to the house when for some reason I decided to look under the coop. There in the obscurity of darkness was a form. It didn’t look quite like a chicken, it looked like an upright lump. I couldn’t distinguish a head or tail and it wasn’t moving. But I knew it was one of the hens. I called to her to come in but she didn’t move so I knew something was wrong. I called to her a couple more times, and then finally I found a long branch and gently herded her back into the coop. It would have been sure death by some hungry predator for her to stay out all night.
The next morning I could see clearly that she had injured her neck. She couldn’t pick up her head to get to the feeder so was pecking along the floor for spilled pieces of grain. Having seen chickens with injured necks before, I knew this could be terminal. Later in the day, when all the birds were outside, I gave the injured hen, who was standing stark still, alone in the middle of the chicken yard, a handful of grain. Immediately the other chickens came over and gradually sidled her out of the way. Then, as I tried to prevent the healthy group from eating it all, Big Bird, the turkey rooster, flew at me. I realized immediately that I was interfering in the natural order and that I needed to let go so they could take care of the situation. They knew she had to go. An animal has to be able to take care of itself or it becomes a burden to the group. Big Bird was letting me know.
The rules of Mother Nature are imbedded into all animals. The hen instinctively knew the scheme of things and that was why she had objected to coming into the coop the night before. It was her time to go. The law of Nature says that the sick and injured must go and I had interfered. The hen was ready to die. That evening when I went to close up the coop, she was not under the coop waiting for the salvation of death. I went inside. She was under the heat light, in labored breathing. I felt sad for my ignorance — maybe It would have been an easier death for her to have been taken by a predator. I looked at her and thought, “She will be dead by the time I come to feed them in the morning.”
Morning came. As I walked toward the coop, I felt angst at the thought of carrying out the body of my little friend. I stepped tentatively into the coop and there she was in the corner – alive and with her head up! She scarfed up a healthy meal from the feeder and I knew she was going to make it. Not time to go!
Teddy Roosevelt once said, “The only thing to fear is fear itself.” But, in these times, it seems reasonable to be fearful doesn’t it? Everyday brings news of another mass killing; men of all ethnicities going out and randomly killing off everyone in their vicinity. And then there is climate change. The world has been assailed by increasingly frequent and violent storms that kill off masses of people in the blink of an eye. If it isn’t quick death, then from Love Canal to Flint, it is a slow, debilitating process of death that is caused by the invisible poisoning of our Earth — air, water, soil, food. If that’s not enough, then there is the looming threat of financial collapse causing misery or death by poverty. It seems like everywhere we turn, Death is looking us in the eye. It is frightening! It’s a wonder we don’t all wake up in the morning and just run out of our houses screaming in terror!
Why would Roosevelt, a reasonable and intelligent human, say that fear is the only thing to fear? I was once face to face with a Rottweiler that lunged, completely unexpectedly, from the corner of a porch toward me. Because I had been a regular Yoga/meditation practitioner, I had cultivated a state of internal calm and centeredness. When I saw the dog out of the corner of my eye coming for me, fear did not arise in me. Because the gaping abyss of fear was not there, the dog stopped, almost in mid air, turned and went back to its corner.
It has to do with being whole inside. Fear eats you up. The state of constant, subliminal fear breaks down your inner integrity. Fear can save your life in emergencies, but, with a persistent presence, it can also be like a leprotic disease, creating holes in the fabric of your being. In Nature, healthy plants aren’t attacked by disease, only plants that are already sick — same with animals. Predators have mechanisms that tell them when something is weak or sick and they go for it. It’s a green light for annihilation!
When calm is your abiding state, when you are able to stand back from the melee and get quiet inside, a whole new world comes into play. Peace is an unassailable ‘defense’ system. It doesn’t allow fear to exist.