Fluffy baby chicks. Not just for holding. For snuggling against cheeks. Fluffy baby chicks symbolize God’s amazing provision, at least in my family history.
Those baby chicks symbolized inheritance, stored up through a faith and hope kind of living – a way of living whose roots stretch down to me, to my sons, to my grand-daughter – six generations of reaching.
I remember roosters, a swinging bridge, a front door and entry hall, a my great-grandmother, calling to us to just follow the path around the furniture. Her house was stacked with a neighbor’s furniture – I recall the words “flooding” but I was 4 – I am sure my memory is not that reliable. However, I do remember that when our feet remained true to the path, we found her, and her voice smiled as she offered us chocolates from a box on the table beside her.
I am sure I saw her more than that – but that is the lone memory, except for her handwriting in a prayer book.
Mary Eva was written in the family bible, Mayme to her friends, Muddy to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Mayme and Claude bought land, built a home, a milk barn, barn and raised 3 sons and a daughter, my grandmother. During The Depression and War, her baby chicks promised more-than-enough on the dinner table.
“Hamburgers were a luxury,” my aunt explained. “We didn’t have meat often.” Soup beans was the plate of the day menu item.
“When we visited Muddy, we’d be so excited to see those baby chicks because that meant we’d have chicken to eat.”
My aunts and uncle would visit, a week at a time, during the summer. My grandmother lived in the city. She went there to live with her grandmother in the second grade to prepare for her first communion. When she graduated high school, she went back. She loved the city – but those roots, they went with her.
Those roots, like baby chicks – they would sustain her.
I took the two littlest out to see where my roots reached back to. Boys aren’t as much interested in their mother’s root system as they are with their dad’s. Maybe that’s as it should be.
But the story of my great-grandfather who played football for the University of Kentucky in 1897, when they were The Immortals – un-scored on, undefeated, untied – who dropped out of medical school to become a thriving farmer, a respected farmer – it is a good story, a good root system to have branched from.
This farm, built by two people’s faith hoping for the future of their children, that is a noble inheritance. That they were concerned with the religious instruction of their children – that too is a noble thing.
Faith that the ground would nurture the seed, that the rains would come and that there would be more than enough.
They built next to a creek that sometimes overflowed. Their busyness flattened the grass of their coming and going, their planting and harvesting, their feeding and milking of their cattle. Their chickens and roosters flourished.
“Remember this–a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop” (2 Cor. 9:6).
In faith, he built a house, planted a shade tree to comfort on a hot day, rooms for children, plenty of seed to plant, plenty of work to do, plenty of provision for when the first war was followed by second war hard on the heels of The Depression. In faith, he raised a family without television, without antibiotics, with home-births, without indoor plumbing or electricity for the longest while.
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Cor 9: 6b-8).
When times were hard for their grown up children, their all-sufficiency spilled over, to help pay for Catholic Schools that provided a religious education – to provide chicken during the war.
“God’s love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him, Making everything right for them and their children” (Psalm 103:17)
Sometimes that inheritance is shared during life. Sometimes those roots are rich enough, strong enough to reach down generations.
“A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22)
Muddy and Claude’s house isn’t there any longer. The only barn remaining is a white stone milk barn, but that’s falling in. The trees that shaded the house – they’re there. The creek that was deep enough for swimming, it rushes past. I wonder if it misses the living that went on there. That day my boys skipped stones across the place where their great aunts, uncles and grandmother and great-grandmother played as children.
The inheritance isn’t the house, the land, the milk barn or the livestock. The inheritance is the faith roots passed down – and those faith-roots passed down allow us to bless our children in baby-chick ways that sustain during depressions, wars and generations.