Often, at dinnertime, before we offer grace, we ask each person what he or she is most thankful for today. The children never fail to give the most enlightening replies that are often wise beyond their years. Last night, one of our little ones, an adventurous and precious three-year-old with an unruly lock of dark hair told us that he was thankful for eggs.
Eggs. We all laughed at first, but then I got to thinking. I like eggs: brown ones, white ones, even the odd-colored eggs you get from unusual breeds of chickens. It doesn’t matter what color they are as long as they come from chickens that are content. I want eggs from chickens that scratch in the dirt, chase insects, laze in the sunshine, and squawk and flutter when they’re displeased. I like eggs from chickens that know how to be chickens.
Eggs have always been a part of my life; I have many memories of being in the warm and cozy chicken coop with my grandmother. She carried a basket lined with clean straw, and would check each nest in the boxes that lines the wall. And from most nests, she would lift warm, smooth eggs.
Her chickens gave mostly brown eggs. Some were small, others so big they filled my entire hand. Those were what she called, “double yokers”, a prize she loved to fry and slide onto my grandfather’s plate. And he never failed to praise her, as if she’d been the one to create the wonderful double yolk eggs.
Grandmother always let me hold an egg from each nest. She taught me to carry it to the basket, ever so gently, and place it in the straw among the others. I would beam with pride when I would get them safely to the basket unbroken, and the times I would drop them my grandmother never scolded me. She said, “You have to take risks in life to accomplish anything worth while. You learn how to gather eggs by gathering them.”
I remember how tall and strong she seemed, unafraid of the grouchy chickens that would peck her hand when she reached under them for the eggs. When they bit her, she would laugh and show me how to use a corncob to fend off the attacks of the hen without hurting her. “I like children and chickens with spirit,” she said. “They learn to protect what’s important to them.”
I think back to all the eggs I’ve gathered and washed and cooked in so many ways: fried, hard-boiled, poached, and dyed. Sometimes, for my grandchildren, I’ll hard-boil and dye eggs when it isn’t the season. I remember teaching them the best way to peel a hardboiled egg and how to succeed in an egg and spoon race. I’ve stirred eggs into potato salad and chicken-corn soup, egg pies, and I’ve made trays of deviled eggs for church suppers.
So . . . I think my little grandson is right to be grateful for eggs. I am too. Thank you, Lord, for your wonderful gift of eggs.