beak poking from hole in white egg, which is on rocks

photo: Creative Commons (Drew Avery: frigate egg hatching)

Easter offers us a chance to celebrate the Spirit of Life in its wildest and freest form. And what creature better suggests this sense of wild freedom than the bird! The bird: which gets from here… to there and to places far, far away… through only… AIR! Birds amaze us because they… can… FLY!

And what’s even more incredible about these flying creatures is how they begin. They begin… encased completely within the solid shell of an egg! And within that shell, they incubate for many days. They must incubate in order to undergo an incredible transformation. They begin as just a teeny, microscopic cluster of cells, and over time, they become… a chick! A chick with all its bird parts, including wings and feathers for flying; a chick whose body completely fills the interior of that shell.

And then a time comes when the chick has a new instinct. In a mysterious way, it knows that it must prepare for the next phase of its life. And there’s only one way to get from where it is to where it is going: It has to break out of that shell!

And the amazing thing is, the chick is equipped with a special body part that has one job and one job only. On the end of its beak, it has something called an “egg tooth.” This is not like teeth you and I have, but it’s a hard, sharp breakout tool. And this egg tooth would be useless without a special muscle in the chick’s neck known as a “pipping muscle.” Using that muscle and its egg tooth, the chick pips away at the shell, kind-of like a hammer and a chisel all at once.

And, gradually, over a period of many hours, and through a process that completely exhausts the chick, it pips away… until, … from that shell, it has finally broken free!

***

This reflection accompanied an Easter sermon based on Mark’s Gospel account of the stone being rolled away from Jesus’ tomb. The minister and I drew parallel metaphors of Jesus’ “break-out” and that of the chick hatching.

After this reflection, I escorted the children from the sanctuary (having them peep like chicks as we left), and took them to an activity where they made simple bird masks and chose streamers for wings. We returned to the sanctuary after the sermon and they “flew” freely around the sanctuary as fully-formed birds.

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