Figuratively and literally.
My favorite image to imprint on our First Communicants is the the notion that they must tend the beautiful garden of their souls for Christ to walk in when they receive Him in the Holy Eucharist. It's especially easy this time of year, when we're sowing our own vegetable garden to make these connections, to associate with the weeding as Confession, and then the raking and hoeing and tending as our firm ammendment and constant work not to sin again, and then the planting of new seeds as our good works. I love to paint this picture in the little one's minds, and it helps me with the weeding and pruning and planting in my own garden, too. Jesus, does truly make all things new.
This is a chicken story.
It goes like this: We had ten or so good laying hens when we started out, well behaved ladies, who stayed in the hen yard and minded their own business; they laid about an egg a day each, clucked and squawked and murmered like chickens do, and got just excited enough when the gatherers showed up to make things interesting. Then, a neighbor who wanted to thin out her flock a little, offered us a rooster and a couple of her hens. We knew going in that these birds were raised without a proper coop or hen yard, living like happy bohemians in a hollowed out VW bus in our friend's backyard. We knew they were mixed breeds and a little wild. But, I thought, "What the hey. They're free. More eggs would be good. And: a chicken's a chicken."
But, ahem... No, we have found out the hard way that this is not true. All chickens are not alike. It seems that there really are good-mannered chickens and bad-mannered chickens. Whether this is a nature or nurture thing, I do not know, but one thing I now know: all the best habits of good-mannered chickens can be completely ruined by a small handful of bad-mannered chickens in no time flat.
Here's the ruination: Not all, but a significant number of our good girls have taken to joining our newly-adopted, renegade, bad-mannered chickens in their daily escapes and raids throughout the property. And, while free-ranging is not necessarily a bad thing for the chickens if they gets their tail feathers back in the hen house by nightfall when the foxes and coyotes roam -- it is true, nevertheless, that chickens are a very bad thing for a newly-sown garden.
In spite of all the rainy days lately here in Colorado, we were making pretty good headway on our spring work... until the chickens found the garden. Every pea that I sowed two-and-a-half weeks ago has been pecked up and eaten. My spinach bed has been turned into a lumpy crater-filled disaster area, and my perennial beds have been vandalized, just short of having grafiti sprayed on my tulips. And, so far, no solutions have worked. We've clipped wings, plugged up holes, screamed and hollared... Nothing has deterred the hooligans yet. I'm going to try red pepper flakes and put up some more netting. But if that doesn't work, we may have to rid ourselves of some chickens. Baked or fried.
Can't do that with your kids if they mix with bad company, though. It's best to just avoid the problem to begin with.
(No, really. You can't. Sorry)
"In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours."
In the last couple of weeks here at our house, we've had several twenty-four hour periods where we've swung from extreme to extreme: lightning, thunder, rain, sleet, hail, snow, terrific wind, tornados -- and then the day will end with a beautiful jello setting in the west.
Of the list of Influential "Heroes" there was not one I would feel safe in a foxhole with and not one I would trust to to teach a child the alphabet. And, seriously, I can sorta see how Bill Clinton's name got on there, but Ben Stiller? Am I missing something?
I'm ashamed to say I recognize more of the names on the Artists List than the other lists, but am struggling to understand how the Time staff is defining the word "influential" here, as in the other lists. Conan O'Brien and Valery Gergiev are on the same list? James Cameron and Neil Patrick Harris?
And the Influential Thinkers List? Yikes. That's all I've got to say. As I read their biographies, I had to admit some were impressive individuals, but thinkers?
For the record:
In our house,
the most influential leader has been Daddy who single-handedly directed the outdoor trim and fence painting being accomplished by the Keystone Kop Kids, and actually made a success of the job. While writing code and business plans for three different start-up companies, doing the Church books, and maintaining a high-maintenance wife. Who loves him very much.
My personal most influential hero on earth is my Aunt Billie who, while fighting a rare form of cancer at 78 years of age, is the ultimate example of southern charm, beauty, and optimism, tied up in a package of resolute strength, determination, and faith. (While my heroes of all time comprise a list too lengthy to print here, but you'll find a good representation in my sidebar contents list under: Saints.)
The most influential artist? As spring unfolds here in Colorado, it's unquestionably the Author and Illustrator of all that is beautiful, our Creator. How could I list anyone else? All the rest are imitations, at best. He really wins top billing in all these lists, anyway.
But, oh, hey... I really should mention fledgling artist, Gabriel, who is teaching us around here the neat little trick of signing our names on pictures and paintings by hiding the letters throughout: a G in an ear, an A in a shirt collar, a B under a nose, an E in another ear... Everyone wants to do this now. That's real creative influence.
For most influential thinker in our house, it would have to be William whose constantly turning brain-cogs keep us all on our toes. Here's hoping the group of us can corral that mental energy into Aquinas-like machinations and away from the plotting of Rocky-and-Bullinkle type dramas.
As a last note, I'm having a dickens of a time with pictures on Blogger these days, and, though it pains me to post anything -- especially this lengthy -- without visual eye-candy (Alas!), I have no choice. I don't have time to figure out what the problem is. I think it just may be Blogger. Is anyone else having picture problems?