Birds of a Feather

Cassie and Ticky opened their eyes to a feast of greenery. After several weeks in an internment camp with its dirt floor, their new home seemed like paradise. Nice clean quarters, food and drink, and a warm, welcoming smile from their adoptive parents.

“Out of my way, you two!” squawked Betty, an elderly spinster twice their height. In an sudden act of aggression she rushed towards them, causing them to dodge out of the way. Out on the lawn, the uneasy stand-off continued with Betty making it quite clear she expected first shares of any culinary delights that were on offer. It was a great relief when, three days later, she became ill. Little could they have known how deeply Betty was grieving for her sister Pam who had died the previous week. This had probably weakened her immune system.

Their parents were clearly very upset by Betty’s condition and tried desperately to save her. But in vain! And so it was that three days later Betty, too, went the way of all flesh. The youngsters savoured the thought of a life free from competition, the apples of their new parents’ eyes.

But barely a day later, their equilibrium was disturbed yet again as another newcomer skipped out onto the lawn. Bluebell was taller than them, with an attractive crimson face and a beautiful slate blue attire. Instinctively they worked as a duo, surrounding her before making subtle digs when she was off guard. When the time came for them to go indoors, Cassie and Ticky rushed at Bluebell, terrorising her and forcing her to hide her face in a corner.

“Clarrrr..cluclucluck!” they cried, “we aren’t interested in your fancy plumage and your pretty-pretty looks. Show-off!”

Mum and Dad worked very hard over the next two days, separating the girls so that Bluebell spent time alternately with Cassie and Ticky on their own. The showdown subsided to an uneasy truce.  Eventually came acceptance and the sharing of affection.


Observing our chickens has provided endless amusement. When one digs up a big, juicy worm, the others will chase around the lawn trying to pinch a bit before it’s swallowed. Then there are the excavations inside the run. The holes they dig to make a dust bath…the path they once made by marching around in a circle to compact the earth. The gentle moments when they let us pick them up so we can stroke their soft, downy feathers…

The Black Lives Matter movement has forced many of us to confront the ugliness of our prejudices. It’s no different from the behaviour of our chickens. An incomer arrives, one who isn’t like me. Perhaps he looks unusual, speaks strangely, or her background is different from mine. I feel threatened! My territory is at stake, and my reaction is one of hostility. Or perhaps, as was the case with Betty in her younger days, I’ve been the victim of discrimination myself, and my instinct is to take it out on others.

This was one area where the apostle Paul in the New Testament had much to say. He was used to meeting believers from different backgrounds and found that, where the Christian Gospel was being well lived, there was something glorious about the unity that transcended society’s normal divisions. For example, masters and slaves meeting in the same room as ‘brothers in Christ’! He says, in Romans 15 verse 7,

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

If I can see Jesus’ presence in another believer, that means he and I share the most important part of our lives. What a great reason to welcome and accept him! Jesus’ life contains plenty of examples of his generous treatment of ‘different’ people, those whom others ignored. Here’s a huge area where we, as the Jesus’ people, can show how He makes a difference.

2 thoughts on “Birds of a Feather

  1. Loved it John. Had me going there. It was quite a few lines before the penny dropped & I realised the ‘girls’ were chickens !😅



  2. Like Ann, it also took me a paragraph or two before I realised…. then it started to sound familiar and I also realised how recent this story was! I feel I already knew Betty!
    Great analogy! …and hens vary so much in colour, plumage, personality, but they’re all hens! …and I’m sure you, their ‘Dad’ love them all.


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