Tour de Cluck:
Why would three grown-up professional women dress like chickens and ride rented bicycles on a rainy day in Davis California?
Two of my sisters (Judy and Carol) and I recently participated in the Tour de Cluck, an annual bike tour of backyard chicken coops. It’s for charity. Each biker-chick pays an entry fee that supports a farm to school program. School lunches, gardens, and recycling programs flourish because people like us, born to be wild, pay to bike-waddle from coop to coop.
I didn’t expect the Rose Bowl Parade. I thought in terms of Gay Pride – hundreds of costumed well-intentioned citizens for a worthy cause. The Tour de Cluck was smaller than Gay Pride. Plus I counted only four people dressed as chickens – my sisters, me, and one other dedicated soul.
It was totally worth it. I would do it again.
My friend Brock talks about “the dearness of things” and the Tour de Cluck allowed me to hover in “Dearness.”
The Dearness of Angels Among Us:
First there was Nic, an employee at Ken’s Bike Shop. In a blog called Love is Listening, I wrote about my inner Mrs. Robinson who longs to blurt “I love you” to kind shopkeepers. Nic was especially kind.
Imagine three old chicken-ladies pecking at this poor young man.
We weren’t angry birds, we were inept birds: “How do you stop this thing? How do I change gears? Do we have to lock it when we visit the chickens? Will you write down the combination? Can you adjust my seat? Can you adjust my seat again? Will you take our picture?”
Nic responded with humor and goodwill.
But who is this Nic? What are his dreams and aspirations? Is he an angel in disguise? Are there other angels like him? Through Nic, I appreciate The Dearness of Angels Among Us. The world is full of souls who set aside their needs and serve. They offer their willingness to be completely present to complete strangers. These angels are unconditional. They are kind. And I suspect they are everywhere, waiting for us to notice, or perhaps join in their angelic ways.
The Dearness of Surprise:
Then came the comedy of the unexpected. It started when we showed up to register and found few people dressed as chickens. We became instant celebrities with paparazzi. People whipped out their smart phones for pictures and selfies.
There was the bathroom incident. There’s a lot of talk these days about who should use what bathroom. So where should the giant chicken-people go? My sister Judy used a public bathroom in her chicken outfit. When she flapped out of the stall, she traumatized a small child. He took one look at her and ran to his mother, crying, “Mommy, mommy there’s a monster in the bathroom.” Judy clucked at him, but it did nothing to ease his fears.
Then it rained and our chicken suits turned soggy. We got lost, several times. We were tired and hungry. Judy’s bike chain started clanking. All of it was an opportunity to be in “The Dearness of Surprise.”
God, The Universe, Grace, Wholeness contains the unexpected. We’re bound to be surprised, and surprise is a good thing. It means we’ve touched the hem of the garment of infinite possibility. Surprise offers the practice of letting go of what “should” happen and allows us to embrace the traumatic, embarrassing, soggy unexpected. May we all gain comfort in the dearness of surprise.
The Dearness of Devotion:
Then we have the Dearness of Devotion. Devotion started close to home, with my sisters, who are like an eternal pajama-clad conversation. They are comfortable and comforting. How easy it is to take them for granted. But Carol our hostess took us to a food-truck extravaganza and pulled out family photos to make us laugh and remember. At bedtime she plugged in a nightlight so we could find our way.
Judy, our costume designer, set aside the pressing details of her life to research chicken-breed-specific attire. She sketched feathers on poly-cotton ponchos and stitched felt beaks for the three of us.
The Dearness of Devotion thrived in the volunteers who set up this Chicken Extravaganza. It extended to the homes we toured. Each chicken coop was a marvel of goodwill. People cared about their chickens and their living accommodations. The chickens had names and personalities. The coops had names – Los Pollos Hermanas in honor of Breaking Bad; Downton Eggy, home to an elegant chicken I liked to call Lady Mary. Each chicken-keeper welcomed us, so eager to share their innocent passion.
The Dearness of Being:
As I seek to wrap-up this fowl reverie, I see that that there must be a metaphor in all this chicken-chit, i.e. chicken consciousness. For days prior, during and after the Tour de Cluck, I had The Chicken Dance, playing in my head. Perhaps you’ve danced The Chicken Dance at weddings and such? And perhaps that’s where the metaphor abides – life is a Chicken Dance.
We are born from elsewhere. We arrive and assume strange identities and costumes. We cluck and strut and shake our tail feathers for this hour upon the stage called Planet Earth. Sometimes we lay an egg. But while we’re here, we can enjoy the ride because the ride is simultaneously simple and astonishing. The angels among us, the surprises, the devotion, the innocence – it measures up. It is worth it. Life is, as it is, simply precious. May we always be mindful. May we always dance. May we always stretch our wings into the dearness of being.
- How have you experienced the Dearness of Angels Among us?
- How have you experienced the Dearness of Surprise?
- How have you experienced the Dearness of Devotion?
- How can you enhance your experience of Dearness in All Being?