Joy (the chicken story) – Part 2


Last week we (chicken) noodled Aviva Joiner’s story of their chicken named “Joy” who was lost one day and then amazingly found alive the next morning under a bucket. This simple tale was the inspiration for many thoughts of the hidden joys in our lives and their miraculous revelation when we see God’s Hand in even the seemingly smallest of critters and instances.


As I was browsing the news this week ironically I ran across another chicken oriented tale. The article gave the history of how the KFC slogan “It’s finger lickin’ good” was first created, (sorry, Joy). Harland Sanders, the founder of KFC, originally made his special chicken for travelers locally before becoming famous and expanding his restaurant concept. In 1935 he received the honor of being made a Kentucky Colonel by the governor of Kentucky for his contribution to Southern cuisine.


Over time his business grew as did the perfection of his distinctive recipe. He began franchising and one of his franchisees was Dave Harman from Phoenix.  In addition to running the KFC restaurant Mr. Harman did voiceovers for commercials advertising his KFC restaurant. Unfortunately, he suffered a stroke after which he could no longer speak clearly. So the manager of the restaurant had the commercials show Dave in the background eating the fried chicken.


One day when the commercial was aired, an angry viewer called the station to complain, “Mr. Harman is licking his fingers!” The story goes that the manager, in defense of Dave, spontaneously said, “Well, it’s finger lickin’ good”.


What does this story really tell us?


I was actually struck by the compassion of the manager who thought of a way to allow the franchise owner Mr. Harman to still be part of the restaurant commercial after his stroke. So when I got to the part of the article about the woman who complained, it was a jolt to my experience of the read. How could someone have this reaction? Maybe she didn’t know the owner was disabled after the stroke? That was a good place to land.


Yet the story shows us how HaShem takes all of our being, our frailties too, and uses them to grow us and to grow the people around us. The beauty of the actions of the restaurant manager lit up my world for that moment as I read the account of his kindness. It is in our darkest moments that His light most brightly shines through the actions of others, for those are the times that we have trouble seeing the light, ourselves. To think that that manager had the wherewithal, in the moment, to respond so positively to the viewer’s heartless, or at best misinformed, judgment was an important reminder.


The story of the manager’s handling Dave’s disability shows us His Divine Love. And because of that act of merciful thinking, that showing of unconditional love to another, literally fortunes were made, not to mention the humor and smiles, the uplifting of so many consumers who have chuckled over this slogan over the years (before its suspension during COVID).


Love is possible in every situation, even in war, even in the aftermath of cruel, random killings. Perhaps in the most adverse circumstances is where love’s light shines the brightest, for it must fight harder to be seen. The surrounding darkness makes its light all the more bright by contrast. The journey is to see it, share it, and act with its inspiration.


God’s love drops are scattered everywhere around us just waiting to be found, and shared. For when we do so we allow His light to shine bright. And that’s what we need now more than anything else.


Shabbat shalom.


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