Proverbs 31:28 – Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. (KJV)
I was thinking about Little Mama the other day — about the time she got lost.
It was a Sunday morning in May, and my daughters wanted to play awhile before getting ready for church. They headed straight to the chicken yard to visit Little Mama.
Little Mama was a Rhode Island Red who loved her job — raising chicks. She'd been the proud mother of numerous broods. She also loved my kids, and squawked affectionately whenever they picked her up, fed her snacks, and petted her.
The back door flew open. "Little Mama's lost!"
I assured the girls that she wasn't and went out to find her. The hen had no sense of place; a fence was just something to fly over, so I felt certain that she was close by.
Then, I had an unsettling thought. Several times, I'd shooed her out of my fishing boat. She loved feasting on crickets, and would search for those that escaped from the cricket box after my fishing trips. The afternoon before, I had gone fishing.
I wondered: was Little Mama in the boat when I left? Had she flown out unnoticed at the lake? I hoped not. With all the predators roaming the woods around that lake, she couldn't have survived the night.
The kids called until they were hoarse, and I became convinced that what I suspected really had happened. There was only one thing to do: go to the lake. All the way, the girls held each other, staring straight ahead, and asking, "How much longer, Daddy, how much longer?"
When we neared the lake, I tried to prepare them for the worst. Even if the hen hadn't been blown out during the long drive, she had probably wandered off into the woods and got lost or killed. Warning them was futile. Adults' hope is just hope; children's hope is more like faith.
At the lake's edge, the girls began calling, "Little Mama, Little Mama, we've come to get you!" We looked everywhere, but there was no sign of the hen.
Then we heard it — Little Mama's familiar squawk. Right above us, perched on a tree limb, was the Rhode Island Red. She flapped down, let herself be hugged by the girls, and got in the pickup, just like she was one of us — which she was.
Little Mama lived to a ripe old age, raised many more broods, and was always my daughters' finest feathered friend. Like all mothers, the hen had a sense of duty, and she fulfilled it.
Every May, on Mother's Day, to honour the great lady who brought me into this world, I place flowers on her grave. She had a sense of duty — motherhood — and she fulfilled it. She still does. When I need her, I can always find her … in my heart.
Which brings to mind something one of my three girls said that day as the five of us rode home from the lake: "I'm so happy! Little Mama's found!"
Prayer: Almighty Father, teach us to be ever mindful that our mothers are among the holiest blessings that You have bestowed upon us. Amen.