Last Shabbat at Oneg Aviva Joiner shared the following story with those blessed to be at her table:
“Last week, we let all of our chickens out to free range. When we went outside to bring them back to the coop for the night we noticed one was missing, a small white chick named Joy. We searched the yard and surrounding woods with a flashlight, but saw no sign of her. Finally we made our way back inside hoping, but without much expectation, that she would show up in the morning. The next day we hurried outside to check, and there was still no sign of her. We were dejected and sad that our “Joy” was lost. Later that day, we were outside by the chicken coop and noticed the small bucket we use to put the scrapes in was flipped upside down. Mom (Raina) went into the coop to flip it over and saw a flash of white feathers. She hesitantly lifted the bucket and little Joy ran out flapping her wings! Other than being a little cramped and dirty from her night under the bucket, she was unharmed and happy to be with her chicken friends again!”
When I heard this story, so many thoughts came to mind that I asked her to share it so I could do so with all of you. Let’s (chicken) noodle it a bit together. . .
How much our lives right now are as this tale of Joy, the “lost” “small” chicken. As much as we try to live normal lives, it is often impossible lately, for our human hearts are so drawn to thoughts of the Middle East, to our sisters and brothers there, the innocents, and our Israeli friends and family at the forefront. Just as Joy seemed lost, in fact, she wasn’t. Nor are we. Nor are our friends and family, and the innocents in harm’s way.
Somehow she must have been safe under that bucket. Yet how did she get there? How could the bucket get on top of her, and how did she not get out from underneath it on her own? And how is it that her name just happens to be “Joy”?
Where I land on this is that none of the timing nor facts of this event are accidental, not the facts of the story nor my sitting near Aviva on just that Shabbat to allow me to be part of the group listening to her story. For me, the timing, just as we need encouragement given the transpiring of these very days’ events in Israel, feels like our Abba, through Yeshua, providing us with the most amazing parable right when we needed it most.
Just like Joy, we are very small in the greater scheme of things, especially during these times where our helplessness seems overwhelming. Yet when it seems that we are lost, we are not, for we are under the shelter of His Wings. Just as the bucket somehow restrained and protected Joy from certain death by night in an area replete with foxes, we really can’t escape His protection. Joy was saved not by her efforts but by a greater force, in her case Raina lifting the bucket, in ours Yeshua tending His sheep and protecting us. Even for those in harm’s way, and even for those who leave this realm through death, there is still protection, just not as obvious nor perhaps noticeable immediately, but rather, to be revealed over time, a spiritual timeline we cannot and are not meant to understand.
From the darkness of inside that bucket, Joy was always there, and when released, sprang forth, just as we need to remember to do the same. Even within the darkness we can cling to His joy if we remain steadfast in our faith. He is with us and His Presence will be even further revealed in the days to come, just as the lifted bucket revealed miraculous life to the little chicken. He is with us, our joy in the Lord, always, waiting to burst forth even during and after hardship, as was the case of Joy trapped overnight in a scary situation. As she was delivered, so are we as evidenced daily. We are reminded of the everlasting life sustaining joy that rests within each of us who cling to Him.
Thank you, Aviva “Joy”ner, I mean Joiner (perfect name for our Rabbi and family for sure)!!
May you all en(joy) this vignette.