How to Find Hidden Treasure (#SmallWonder Link-up)

Our giant black chicken stood outside the open kitchen window clucking with vigor yesterday afternoon.  Despite the high heat and humidity, she marched back and forth in the green grass busily squawking with an air of self-importance, a clear sign she’d just laid an egg. 

I dropped what I was doing and rushed outside.  “A-ha!” I thought.  The day before I’d gathered a measly four eggs. I knew the hens were holding out on me and I walked slow searching circles around the yard in the afternoon and early the next morning hunting for their secret nest. 

Our sixteen hens have a total of seven nesting boxes spread between two coops and one “alternative” nest tucked in a pile of hay on the garage floor.  They have plenty of good places to lay their eggs.  But once a month or so first one, then three or four find a new place to lay. 

The first secret nest we found was tucked under a piece of abandoned plywood lying at the base of our largest pine tree.  In the sheltering shade of the old wood, resting in a shallow depression between two roots, lay a clutch of eighteen eggs.  Since then we’ve found clutches on wooden shelves in my husband’s wood shop, in dark corners of the garage, and in the middle of a much-trampled flowerbed.  The nests are cleverly hidden and nearly impossible to find, although they have hens sitting in them and coming and going for most of the day.   

When I suspect the hens are hoarding eggs, I prowl the yard looking around the base of shrubs and trees, I roam the garage looking for secret corners and shadowed shelves.  Most importantly, I start listening to the chatter among the birds.
Every chicken we have, save perhaps for the shy Polish hen, announces her freshly laid egg with a puffed chest and wide-spread wings, her beak opening to pronounce pride with a voluminous round of “bawk-bawk-bigawk.”  This announcement can go on for a good five or ten minutes as the hen boasts and elates over her own great deed.  If I’m paying attention, then I notice this cackle of delight and quickly head toward the loud-mouth hoping to catch her red-handed at the scene of the crime. 

Yesterday when I heard “Thunder Storm” (as my daughter calls her) or “Darth Vader” (as the boys call her) clucking up a storm I ran outside and checked closely in the weedy flowerbed beneath the window, pushing aside leggy Cone Flowers and Daisy stems that refuse to yield more buds.  I scanned the base of the overgrown shrubs that need trimming but found nothing.  Lately I've noticed the hens hanging out around the old well-house just beside the kitchen window but I’ve checked the ancient trellis there with its climbing vines and knew, just knew, there was nothing there.
Still, I paused and scanned low again while the black hen with her feathers that shimmer iridescent blue and green chattered on.  Then my eyes caught it, just a glimpse of brown tucked in below the trellis, behind winding vines hidden in shadow.  Kneeling, I tenderly pulled back vine to reveal a sheepish brown hen who, startled by my abrupt arrival, decided she had sat for long enough.  Tottering off, she too began to boast about the egg just laid and I stared at the pile of eggs, treasure revealed.
I called the kids outside to witness my discovery and we started counting the brown, white and blue eggs I pulled out of their secret shade.  “Eleven eggs!” I shouted, delighted with my find. Then I ferried the eggs into the house in the upturned hem of my shirt.
In the kitchen, I eased the eggs gently onto the counter and sent my husband a text, “I found the secret nest!”  Then I washed the eggs, checked for freshness and slid each into its own slot in a new carton.  

I don’t know why the hens change their laying habits, why they refuse to utilize the seven perfectly good nesting boxes.  I suppose it has something to do with hiding from predators and other ancient longings they could not quite articulate even if given the gift of human language.  I want those eggs, though, as much as any fox or raccoon in the wild might, because they’re of value to me and since I feed and shelter the birds (as much as they’re willing to comply) I feel entitled, you might say, to certain benefits.
I find it tempting, then, to accuse my birds of hoarding their gifts and from there it would be an easy leap to turn this into a reflection on hiding one’s talents under a bushel basket and the likes.  Some of us do hide the gifts we’ve been given and hoard them to the detriment of ourselves and those around us.  But the truth is, many of us have a hard time finding and claiming our own nest of gifts.  Many of us spend weeks and months circling our lives waiting to discover what it is we have to offer a needy world.

I could tell you not to hide your talents, but I bet most of us know that’s a no-no already.  Instead I want to offer this to those who are hunting and seeking for the hidden nests among us, the places of fertility and fruitfulness, the places of hidden treasure: 

I never found a hidden nest by shaming a bird.  

I’ve never sat a chicken down and had a stern talk eye-to-eye and told them they really should be more compliant.  (But I have a hunch the effort would be wasted.)   

What I do, when hunting hidden treasure, like a nest or a talent or a sense of true vocation in this world, is listen for the song.  Look for the place where joy and pleasure abound, splitting the air on even the hottest of days, the place where you sing loud enough that you can be found.  

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Author, Shawn Smucker and I are offering a one-day retreat this coming October 15 in Carlisle, PA.  Titled, Writing As Witness, we will explore the ways writing can position us to witness the presence of God in our own lives and in the world.  Visit link to learn more.  
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Welcome to the #SmallWonder link-up.  

What if we chose to deliberately look for small moments of wonder, the small sparks of presence, of delight or sorrow, of true humanity in which we meet God?  

That's my proposal - that we gather here each week to share one moment of Wonder from each of our days.  You're invited to link-up a brief post about a small moment of wonder.  Don't worry if your post is too long, too short, or not just right - you're welcome to come as you are.  

While you're here, please do take a look around and encourage at least one other blogger with a comment.  Thanks for being part of our community!  



  1. Kelly, I love this post. I know what you mean about the chickens. We have a few and they cackle very loudly after laying an egg. They seem to like a corner of the coop rather than the next boxes, but we've also found them under a cart. They even get the wooden eggs sometimes and move them where the real eggs are. LOL Good analogy to life here. This is inspiring - "Look for the place where joy and pleasure abound, splitting the air on even the hottest of days, the place where you sing loud enough that you can be found." Blessings!

    1. I'm glad you can relate, Gayle - they sure keep us hopping. Thanks for being here.

  2. Hen behavior is inscrutable -- and sometimes human behavior is, too! I love that you have managed to redeem the foolish antics to a bird so that I come away with a lesson about my own foolishness. Trusting for grace to sing loud -- and often!

  3. Kelly, I appreciated your post so much... how silly we are scratching around hiding our gifts when the savior has given us such perfect places to utilize them. I enjoyed the look into the world of chickens-- I never considered one would have to hunt for their eggs- guess it's kind of like Easter every day...? :)

    1. I like to think of those eggs as being like manna, the way God made the world to provide for us is so miraculous.

  4. What a great analogy, Kelly! "Many of us have a hard time finding and claiming our own nest of gifts" I hear you. Most of us might not even think there IS a nest, but I love your advice, look for what brings you joy, what might make you sing. There's sure to be a talent lurking close by! I'm off to examine what makes me feel like singing ... I've a hunch I already know.

  5. this is beautiful Kelly, so glad to be back after a long summer break from writing. What a joy to read your beautiful writing, and words of wisdom on vocation and hunting for hidden eggs!

    1. Thanks Kathy and welcome back - I hope you break was refreshing.