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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Peggy McCracken

Squarely Pegged

By Peggy McCracken

New life emerges
to comfort in sorrow

Blackie the missing hen emerged from the Salvia bush not 10 feet from my kitchen door last Saturday, trailed by 12 downy chicks. My eyes took in the beautiful pattern of black, yellow and gray, but my brain could hardly comprehend.

I had hung up my chicken farmer hat and hoped that Blackie would survive, wherever she had gone. I couldn’t believe she had hidden 12 eggs under that bush then sat there quietly for 21 days until they all hatched, right under my nose.

“Help!” I SOSed to Laura Briggs, who got me into this project. “What do you feed baby chicks?”

Like the trooper she is, Laura showed up next day with enough chick starter to last a month, along with instructions for feeding. In the meantime, I had done some Internet research and learned baby chicks need to eat about six times a day.

They eat all day long, as Blackie and the ever-present Rooster scratch up bugs and seeds for them. Like any obedient child, they peck where Mama pecks and drink water when she drinks. Leftover cornbread and watermelon rind are among their favorite treats between meals.

It is a joy to watch the little fellows scurry through the grass to keep up with Mama. Some stray a little, but soon notice they are out of line and hurry back to the safety of Mama’s wings. She protects them fiercely, attacking Grackels and doves that come to freeload on her grain.

My joy turned to sorrow Saturday night when I learned that my first piano student, 10-year-old Chantz Dickinson-Contreras, died of injuries from a car wreck that happened about the same time the chicks emerged from the Salvia bush.

Chantz played the piano when our little Genesis band rendered “When the Saints Go Marching In” at a comedy style show in the spring. His big love was drums, though, and he switched instruments for “Nothing But the Blood,” as an offertory at West Park a month or so later.

Chantz’s friends, Hunter Matta and Valentin Almarza, joined me Thursday in playing “When the Saints Go Marching In” for his memorial service at West Park. His drum sat silent, with his God’s Army uniform draped over the stool.

Chickens will never replace Chantz, but they are a reminder that God gives life and he takes it away. Chantz is more alive now than he ever was here on earth, because he had trusted Jesus to save his soul for an eternity in Heaven. He was a great witness since his baptism in January, praying and asking for prayer for other children who mistreated him at school, and I know he has a front row seat around the throne.

But Jesus called the children to him, and said, “Let the children come to me, and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Luke 18:16, TEV

EDITOR’S NOTE: Peggy McCracken is Enterprise business manager. Contact her at HYPERLINK ""

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