Chicken Wisdom: On Shedding Guilt

Written on December 20, 2015. 

This past spring I had the opportunity to live and work on a few different farms in Texas and I really learned so much. Some were practical skills that I never expected to acquire like driving an excavator and running drip irrigation! But there were many subtle Life lessons that snaked their way into my conscience uninvited but certainly welcomed. I remember once being on my hands and knees, scraping chicken poop off the floor of the coop, when I got a lesson on Guilt and Feelings. Knee deep in chicken shit, I was happy as a lark! I felt completely humbled and content serving these egg-laying Beings. They flittered and fluttered around me, making soft chicken noises, curiously watching and quietly observing. Even if they could speak to me, I don't think they would have been profusely apologizing..."Oh Marlena, we are so sorry! We have just filled this place with poop and now you have to clean it up. Thank you so so so much! I promise we'll come clean your place up soon. I am just so ashamed of this mess. I'll never forgive myself." The hens seemed grateful, yet not surprised, with me serving them. And it was a mutual relationship. I looked after them and they gave me eggs. No apologies needed. 

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It seems that guilt is a heavy heavy coat, seemingly impossible to shed even when the sun shines bright and the body begs for a breeze, for cool relief. But while it can be heavy, I’m realizing that I have the strength to remove that coat, to give myself the comfort that I deserve. Releasing the tight grip of guilt and treating myself with loving kindness and respect has been been an intense practice for me for the past few years. Our society teaches us that being selfish is a bad thing, so to break that conditioning, to cut the strings of that corset tied tight around us since birth, takes strength, takes courage, takes determination. Releasing the guilt and providing myself what I truly need gives me the space and energy to provide for others. I believe that until our own cup is full and running over, we have little to give, little to offer this world. So although my days in the chicken coop are done (for now!), I will carry the wisdom of those little chirpers with me always: No apologies needed!

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