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The Pecking Order

When our family moved to the country we decided to learn to can our own food and raise our own chickens. We started with 12 baby chicks. The girls loved them, and for the past couple of years they have been a great family project.

However, we have recently discovered something not so great about our flock. Our chickens have a pecking order. You can tell what it is by the ones missing the most feathers. The chickens with the most feathers missing are at the bottom of the pecking order. The chickens with all their feathers intact are at the top of the pecking order. They are the bosses that tell everyone what to do.  They will also keep picking at the other chickens until they finally kill the one that is lowest on the chicken food chain.

We have had to separate one of our chickens from the rest to keep her safe. When we try to put her back in with the flock, she runs inside the chicken house and finds a spot where the others can't get to her. When they are outside, she is inside. At night when they come inside, she rushes outside. The world can be a sad and lonely place for our poor chicken.

I have discovered that people can be a lot like my chickens.  There seems to be a "pecking order" to many of the things we do. We may judge each other by who has the best job or who gets to stay home with their children. Or maybe we judge by who is in a presidency or who is "just" a visiting teacher. We might ask who is married or who is divorced? We might even wonder who has the most children and who has the least.   Who among us is rich or who is poor? All of these judgments establish an order in our lives.  The sad part is that we can get caught up in judging each other (and ourselves) according to that perceived order.

I am sure that you remember the story in the New Testament where a man asked Christ, “And who is my neighbour?”  Jesus answered in the form of a parable.  How a man from Jerusalem was on his way to Jericho and fell among thieves and was left half dead. A priest passed by on the other side, but did not stop and help; neither did a Levite stop to help.

Then Jesus taught:
“But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him.”

If we are truly disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will reach out with love and understanding to all of our neighbors at all times, particularly in times of need.

I often wonder why some of us act like the chickens in my backyard and feel that we must be critical of those around us.  I suppose it is as natural as the "pecking order", so much so, that they don't even think about it. They criticize everyone around them.  The way a lesson is taught, the way someone grows their garden or weeds their yard, or cleans their house.  Yet, when we are filled with kindness, we are not judgmental.  The Savior taught, “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.” Luke 6:37

As we struggle in our own lives to find kindness for those around us, we can remember the scripture found in Jude 1:22  “And of some have compassion, making a difference.”

Who can tell what difference we can make if we are only kind?

Patty Ann is a busy mother, grandmother, and wife. She lives her life in the woods she loves up on the top of a beautiful mountain. She loves music, photography and writing. Most of all she loves her Heavenly Father and enjoys writing about his influence in her life. You can find her on her blog at Pitterle Postings

*Photos by Patty Ann

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