Chirping Toward Voice

April 3, 2012
JustLiving Farm

Morning feeding sometimes lends itself to a moment of consideration.  A few days ago we picked up a few chicks whose lot in life is to become this year’s egg-laying hens.  These chicks may not be the image that comes to mind when hearing the word chick.  This time of year, in our area, the image that does come to mind is all around us.  It is nearly impossible to walk into a feed store, a lumberyard, or even a clothing store and not see chicks about the size of tennis balls chirping next to a feeder under a heat lamp.  Something about Easter brings out the sellers and buyers of chicks.  However, our chicks are not the size of tennis balls.

Our chicks are two months old and at two months, they have lost their fluff and gained their feathers.  They are beginning to look like chickens, but have yet to acquire a chicken voice.  At two months, chicks continue to chirp as they did when they were tennis ball size, but there is something more to it.  The chirp has something of a hoarseness to it, kind of like the in between, breaking, voice I remember all too well from my teenage days.  Soon, though, their true chicken voices will kick in and the days of chick will be long-gone.

Finding voice is different for chicks and chickens than it is for teenagers and adults.  Speaking—having the ability to speak or chirp, is natural in most of our lives.  But finding voice, finding those thoughts which are uniquely your own, is something different, something that takes a bit of time and a lot of reflection.  Such voice might be verbal, but it might also be that which is written or formed by clay or painted on canvas or pencil on paper, or by way of camera.  Such voice is not chirping nor childish, but mature with a dash of thoughtfulness—however; such voice may rise up out of a child and be lost to an adult.

Voice does not silence the voice of another, but gives another something to ponder and consider.  Voice encourages voice.

I’m not sure why the chirping of two-month-old chicks has me thinking of voice today.  I imagine it has something to do with the darkness of Holy Week.  A time that calls for attention, consideration, and awareness of the deep and abiding hurt that has far too much presence in our communities.  Perhaps it is the riding of a colt and Travon Martin and Mathew Shepard; perhaps it is the selling of doves and John T. Williams; perhaps it is a few days before Passover, some nard and Rosa Parks, Dorothy Day, and Fannie Lou Hamer; perhaps it is Judas and I; perhaps it is a meal in a guest room and Oakland and Oikos University; perhaps it is the casting of lots, sour wine, a torn curtain and us.

Voice does not just happen.  Like so much of life, chirping comes first, then listening, then consideration, and then with the help of friends, neighbors, and elders…voice becomes.  Perhaps, today, I just begin chirping and live with the hope of voice and resurrection.

© David B. Bell 2012



  1. Dave, I really like your thoughts about finding one’s voice. My impression is that teens and young adults today are finding it especially difficult to find a voice that is distinct, mature, and useful for years to come. It is an important task for those of us who are older to mentor them. I’m glad that you and others at the Yakama Mission are working at this work. Keith


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