Love and Chickens

In northern California there’s farm of sorts. It has barns and pens and pastures, and there are a whole lot of animals – cows, pigs, goats, chickens, turkeys and others. They all live there, but the farm doesn’t generate anything for humans to eat. Those animals aren’t for sale or for consumption; they have been rescued from factory farms and other abusive living situations and brought to this particular place of safety called Animal Place, a farm sanctuary.

In his book, The Pig Who Sang to the Moon, Jeffrey Masson includes a story about two of the chickens who live at Animal Place: Mary and Notorious Boy. The two were very close. They would walk in the yard together, peck for food together, and even slept right next to each other at night, outside the coup, away from the other chickens. One day, there was a sudden, heavy rain. Most of the chickens were in their coup, but Mary and Notorious Boy were not, so their caregiver, Kim Sturla, went to help get them out of the rain. She found the two standing on top of a picnic table, huddled together. Notorious Boy had his wing out over Mary’s head, and he was shielding her from the worst of the rain.

Remember that these are two chickens that we are talking about here, and then take a second. Think about the people in your life that you would be willing to stand in the rain to protect. Think about the people who would be willing to stand in the rain to watch over you. That’s love. It might not be everything that love is, or all that it can be, but it is love. This world is not always easy, it is not always fun, it is not always good, and love is the thing that holds people together to care for one another and to face the world despite its difficulties and failings.

Love unites people. It breaks down the barriers between “I” and “you”, and helps to form a “we”. Particularly in our ever-more individualistic and isolating culture, love is the most dynamic force there is; the one most likely to change the way in which people live and relate to one another. When we affirm together each Sunday that “Love is the spirit of this church,” this is what we are getting at: to look out for one another, to offer aid and comfort to one another, to make the world a more merciful place for each other and as many other people as we possibly can.

There are lots of different ways in which we live out our commitment to care for and about each other. We do so simply by showing up to share in a worship service or other event, to participate and enjoy each others’ company. We express our care in our support of the congregation as a whole, through volunteer efforts and financial donations. We let each other know that we aren’t in this alone by reaching out, at coffee hour or any other time; starting a conversation, or offering a warm smile. And we also strive to live out our loving spirit towards one another by offering support in times of challenge and crisis. I and your Pastoral Care committee want to know whenever you might need us: when you’re sick, or in need of help, or just could use a listening ear. If you find yourself caught in the rain, we want you to feel like our community has its metaphorical wing over your head.



In Faith,

Rev. Kelly Weisman Asprooth-Jackson



First Parish Church

225 Cabot St

Beverly, MA 01915


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