Some of you may be familiar with William Sonoma. It is an upper bracket kitchen supply store and catalogue. I love getting their catalogues, because I love to cook with good food, good tools and good recipes. That was what William Sonoma was about. But now they have gotten into the Urban Agrarian Market. Supplies for urban farmers, like chicken coops. Beautiful chicken coops. For between $600-2000 you can purchase a beautiful, beautiful, chicken coop and run. Seriously. Did I mention they are beautiful?
I like the idea of keeping chickens. I like the idea of picking up fresh eggs from clean straw and serving them for breakfast. I like the idea… And a William Sonoma Chicken coop would be so beautiful in my back yard. But I’m not sure I’m ready, yet to become a town farmer. Because what doesn’t come with the chicken coop in the William’s Sonoma catalogue and what keeps me from becoming a chicken owner, is a pooper scooper for cleaning out the beautiful $2000 coop. Or an axe for the time when the chicken becomes too old to justify its feed any longer.
In the catalogue, it all looks very gentile and beautiful and dignified and clean. I suppose if you put a flock of chickens in a $2000 coop like this they would be nice enough to deliver eggs that don’t need to be washed??
But we all know that no matter how clean beautiful gentile the chicken coop, the eggs will still need to be washed. Because that is were eggs come from.
That is how it is with animals. They come with the good, the bad and the ugly. Which may be why humans haven’t always treated animals so well. If they don’t meet our needs or contribute some way to our well being, then they are not valuable.
I was with my grandchildren at Theresa Schieffelbein’s farm near Wykoff over Labor Day. I get most of the meat we eat from Theresa and Leslea’s farm: HealthyHeritage Meats. I took my grandkids to the farms so that they could begin to get some idea of where their meat comes from. Lillian started to get it and then backed away from the idea. I think she decided that beef comes from the calf she was petting in about the same way eggs come from a chicken.
While walking out to the pasture to see if we could find the cows Theresa raises semi-free range, Five year old, Lillian and Theresa were having a philosophical discussion about animals Theresa said, the cows should be right here. That’s where they were just a minute ago.. Somehow this concerned Lillian. Like the cows should be where they said they were going to be. So Lillian asked Theresa, “Do animals lie?” Theresa said, “No, animals don’t lie, only humans lie. Animals do what animals do,” she said, “it is always the truth.”
Animals might be messy, bothersome and a lot of work, but they are always honestly animals. When a dog defends their territory or a cat nips a child that is being too rough, the animal is doing what animals do honestly, and in that honesty we see God’s wisdom.
When cows wander to the better green grass instead of staying where we can see them, they are doing exactly what cows should do.
And I believe God rejoices in seeing the creation act honestly.
Because in Psalm 104 we see God as the one rejoicing over creation and all its wisdom.
In verse 31 of chapter 104: Let the Lord rejoice in all God has made! Let the Lord rejoice in all God has made!
Robert Capon, a theologian who passed away this week explained how God rejoices over creation in this way.
“Let me tell you why God made the world.
One afternoon, before anything was made, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit sat around in the unity of their Godhead discussing one of the Father's fixations. From all eternity, it seems, he had had this thing about being. He would keep thinking up all kinds of unnecessary things - new ways of being and new kinds of beings to be. And as they talked, God the Son suddenly said, "Really, this is absolutely great stuff Why don't 1 go out and mix us up a batch?" And God the Holy Spirit said, "Terrific! I'll help you." So they all pitched in, and after supper that night, the Son and the Holy Spirit put on this tremendous show of being for the Father. It was full of water and light and frogs; pine cones kept dropping all over the place, and crazy fish swam around in the wineglasses. There were mushrooms and mastodons, grapes and geese, tornadoes and tigers - and men and women everywhere to taste them, to juggle them, to join them, and to love them. And God the Father looked at the whole wild party and said, "Wonderful! just what I had in mind! Tov! Tov! Tov!" And all God the Son and God the Holy Spirit could think of to say was the same thing: "Tov! Tov! Tov!" So they shouted together "Tov meod!" and they laughed for ages and ages, saying things like how great it was for beings to be, and how clever of the Father to think of the idea, and how kind of the Son to go to all that trouble putting it together, and how considerate of the Spirit to spend so much time directing and choreographing And for ever and ever they told old jokes, and the Father and the son drank their wine in unitate Spiritus Sancti, and they all threw ripe olives and pickled mushrooms at each other per omnia saecula saeculorum, Amen.
Can you just feel God rejoicing in the earth and all its inhabitants? Just like you laugh when your animals do crazy, cute and animal-like things, can’t you imagine God laughing, too.
The calf that you have been bottle feeding who still moos at you looking for that bottle even though she has been weaned.
The dog that greets you at the door with his tail wagging.
The squirrel that does whatever it can to reach the birdseed.
Just as they make us laugh, so they give God joy.
And maybe that is what went wrong, we stopped celebrating with God.
That is what goes wrong, instead of celebrating creation as God celebrates creation, humans turn creation into things that can be used.
The dog gets pushed aside as a nuisance, the cow get kicked because it is annoying, the squirrel gets killed because it is stealing birdseed. The elephant has its tusks torn out because the money is more important than the joy and worth of the animal.
Fortunately, we have re-learned how to celebrate the worth of creatures. The eagle and bluebird are with us now because we recognized the world would be diminished without them. Humans are better now for what we have done in protecting the creation.
I am overjoyed when I can say to a visitor to my gardens: Look at the bluebird building a nest in the bluebird box. See the 5 eggs it has laid. Watch as it feeds its young. See how soft the little ones look.
15 years ago this would have been a rare occurrence. Now bluebirds nest in boxes right in Chatfield!
I believe that God rejoices in this comeback, just as much as I do.
And I believe that as we celebrate the creatures that inhabit Earth with us, we sink our roots deeper into the ways divine Wisdom sustains and delights in creation.
As we see God’s delight in creation. We realize that each element of Earth is blessed by God and blesses another part of creation. And with God, Father Son and Holy Spirit we realize this is something to celebrate.