Chickens and Contentment

We currently have six chickens, which given the current cost of eggs, has been a pretty good thing (although not a good investment, really, with the cost of chicken food, a coop, the fence we built, etc...buyer beware). One of them, Zara, has recently discovered that she can get out of the run, even though we've clipped all of their wings (guess we didn't do a good enough job). When I discovered this yesterday, I put her back in and then watched to see how she got out. After blocking her path and relocating her again, it was interesting watching her next move: She frantically paced back and forth, all along the fence wall, looking for the way out she once knew, but was no longer there. For several minutes (and maybe even more, because I walked away), she kept this up, walking the same paths over and over, looking for something new that would lead to her beloved freedom, now stolen from her.

Here are the happy chicks...

...and the discontented escapee.

Now I know that chickens are kind of dumb, and so maybe she forgot that she had tried the path before stepping a few yards away to then try it again, but something about the frenetic way she was searching brought to mind the question: are we so different? She was in a panic, mindlessly searching for something, anything to get out. The other five chickens were busy scratching around the run, some even eating the fresh food I had just laid down, but not Zara. She appeared manic, crazy, wanting something she couldn't get and incessantly searching until she could find it.

Yeah, I don't think we're all that different. We want something but it hasn't come yet -- that job, that person, even something material like a car or a sweater -- and so we cannot rest until it's ours. This is why two-day shipping (and even same-day shipping in big cities) has become so popular: we can't wait. We are a people accustomed to getting what we want, when we want it, and I think the effects of that can be catastrophic.

Now, I'm not talking about ambition here or bettering yourself or your situation; I mean the frantic reaching for what we want, without even considering what's around us, what we already have. Or take it one step further: without considering if it's even something God wants for us.

I think a lot about contentment and have written quite a bit about it too. I think it's one of the hardest practices in life to grasp, but maybe one of the most valuable; and obviously something I struggle with myself, considering all of this reckoning I do over it. It takes massive amounts of patience and trust, as well as a healthy dose of counter-cultural living (especially here in the West), but the dividends are a simple life that is in sync with those who matter most, and especially with God.

I recently recorded a couple of videos performing songs I had written about the topic, which you can see/hear above and below. "Bleed These Dreams" is about the constant tension between striving, sometimes for good things, while reminding yourself to be content with what you have and where you are. "Laundromat (The Lucky Ones)" is about finding yourself in a place that might seem less-than others around you, but acknowledging the benefits of where you are in your life and in your maturity, knowing that sometimes having less might just be part of our role in a greater Kingdom or purpose.

I hope these songs can be an encouragement to you as we all strive for contentment, even amongst seeking good and better situations in life, all in a balanced and healthy way.

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13)