"Grandpa Steve and the Mysterious Chicken!"
One through Thirteen
A Listing of Abundant Change Books and Recordings
Music-Outreach Nostalgic & Uplifting Books & Recordings
by Michael D. Purvis
how we need mystery in our lives! Our sense of the "work-a-day
world," as my father would call it, makes our very
hearts and souls cry out for mystery and magic. And oh,
how that cry can inspire and transform us if we will only
listen for that little voice in us, the little voice which
prods us and directs us toward mystery and creativity. We
will be guided and changed (and perhaps even happy!) if
we will only listen to this voice.
urge you, dear reader, now to open your own heart and mind
as you take in this delightful little story filled with
characters and a family perhaps not so different from your
own. I hope you will let just a little of "the mysterious
chicken" into your own life.
all need, if not a mysterious chicken, a mysterious something
to lift us out of our complacency, to inspire us and motivate
us to create. We all need the presence of mystery to help
us to notice our inner selves and our world. We need this
presence, too, to engage us: with our selves, with our souls,
with each other, and with our world.
you ever seen a mysterious chicken? Read on, let
him "scratch, scratch, scratch" at the door of
your heart and mind, and see what might happen
Steve lived on a big farm. It was way out in the country,
and a much farther distance than little Travis, Grandpa
Steve's grandson, could ride on his bicycle. It was located
on a large piece of property which lay past the convent,
across the railroad tracks, and on the other side of the
highway which carried everyone from the big city to the
little town in which Travis lived.
time Travis and his mom visited Grandpa Steve they would
drive past the convent, and if they had time they would
stop to see Mother Mary, whose statue stood in an old stone
shrine which was hidden in the beautiful trees on the grounds
of the convent. It was hidden, but not so obscured that
they could not see its ivy-covered, cobble-stoned walls
easily from the window of their vehicle.
on the day of their visit to Grampy Steve it was a busy
day and they did not have time to stop at the shrine, the
two, mother and son, would simply smile and say happily,
"Hello, Mother Mary!" as they sped past the grounds
of the Mother-house in a gust of country highway wind. Just
this activity of waving and greeting Mother Mary was, in
itself, a fun game between mother and son which Travis loved.
an actual visit to the shrine was even better! When they
did stop, and when on these occasions they walked across
the green lawn cared for by the elderly but still dedicated
nuns, it always came into Travis's mind that the smiling
figure which awaited them inside the little stone house
was a bit of a mystery.
time they visited this old and delightful place, his mother
would, upon climbing the stone steps of the shrine with
her little boy in hand reverently and carefully turn the
squeaky old iron doorknob of the little stone building.
Then, though they had been here together many times before,
the two would both feel a sense of expectation as they stepped
across its shadowed doorway.
inside the little boy would stare up earnestly at the kind
looking lady, his brown eyes shining and reflecting the
glow of the little lighted candles left by the nuns and
by the passersby. His hand held tightly and warmly in that
of his own mother, he would gaze up at the lady whom he
had been told often by his grandmother Marnie was the 'Mother
of the Whole World." He would cock his head back and
forth contemplating how this kind looking lady, sitting
inside her dusty house made of cobblestone and seashells
could be a mother to everyone.
wasn't quite sure he understood, but he took his Grammie's
word for it. And whether he completely understood or not,
he loved the game of coming to visit this strange and unusual
little house containing the silent and kindly lady who always
wore her rather dusty, (yet somehow still beautiful) light-blue
he did not realize it at the time, the visits made a profound
effect on the little boy. When he was older, little Travis,
not nearly so little any more and considerably wiser, would
reflect upon how he had loved coming to visit this silent
"Mother of the Whole World" who had gold stars
positioned over her head. These stars, he would recall,
had seemed somehow magical to him as they glinted softly
in the sunlight which shone through the trees of the sparkling,
immaculate, green lawn, cared for by the elderly Sisters
light, he remembered, would leak into the little shrine
through its door and little stained glass windows. And,
when in his adult years (whether as a young man or an old
one) he contemplated this unique light, he was always was
struck by how this particular combination of light and shadow
was unlike any other he had experienced. He would remember
how he had loved looking at the somewhat tarnished, but
still reflective stars over the head of the benevolent lady.
They were old gilt stars, which though having a patina which
came from age and candle soot, still glinted and gleamed
when the sun was positioned just right, shining in a sunbeam
through the open door of the little stone house.
an adult, he would remember how (though he had been but
a small child at the time of his visits with his own mother
to the roadside shrine) he somehow sensed that when this
sunbeam shone upon the crown of stars over the statue of
Mother Mary it was as though all the dreams and prayers
of the world where concentrated in a little gleaming sunbeam.
It was as though all the prayers of the world shone on the
mottled stars over the head of this smiling, benign and
ageless lady, and were reflected back into the eyes of himself
as a child.
this memory would have for him one more gift, and this was
the most amazing thing of all. He got the most pleasant,
comforting feeling whenever he received this gift. When
he was immersed in this memory it was as if, somehow, he
too was ageless. And, best of all, the world was smiling,
kind and benevolent, like the lady in his memory.
was indeed magical, and when he stared up at the face of
the lady as a child, or in the tape loop of memory, he somehow
understood how this lady could be the mother of the whole
world, and how God could be Loving Creator. He somehow felt
protected and safe. He somehow felt that all was and would
be well, and that the world was full of protection, love
was glad, as a boy and later as a man, that he had been
so often to visit his Grandpa Steve and Grandma Marnie and
that visiting the lady in her stone house with his mother
on their way to his grandparents was a staple of his childhood.
was the history of this shrine, and why had Travis' mother
made it a part of their routine?
when they visited, before they left, or even if they passed
by simply saying "Hello Mother Mary," Travis'
mom would explain, though she had explained this many times
before, that Mother Mary had been standing inside for over
one hundred years, just waiting to greet everyone who came
to see her, and that she was actually about two thousand
this explanation, though he had heard it so many times,
really made Travis' head cock back and forth in his typical
gesture of curiosity and wonder. He looked a bit like the
families' cocker spaniel when he did this, but it certainly
expressed his awe and wonder at what he was always told
about the age of Mother Mary. She was indeed a very special
and old mother. And somehow acknowledging her lent a special
air of mystery and wonder to Travis' visits to see Grampy
Steve and Grammie Marnie, which was good, for having this
sense of openness to mystery was a good thing to have for
it helped the little boy balance out Grammy Marnie's rather
no nonsense air and complimented Grampy Steve's impractical
dreamer sort of personality.
mother, whether she realized this consciously or not, instinctively
knew all of this, and the trips to the shrine were her way
of providing all of this for her little boy.
the trip to or acknowledgement of the shrine was important,
but, the visit to or wave to Mother Mary was not the sole
reason for the automobile trip which took them past the
shrine. The final destination of this trip was the visit
to Grandpa Steve and Grandma Marnie on their big farm across
the railroad tracks, across the highway and way out in the
country, five miles from Tupton, the little town in which
to Travis, five miles seemed a very long ways indeed. After
they greeted Mother Mary and crossed the big highway, there
was always the long stretch of country road which for a
boy like Travis, not known for his patience, often seemed
like a bit of a trek. Travis would sit on the edge of his
seat, peering up over the dashboard, and squint his eyes,
looking for the large barns and silos which made up a wonderful
silhouette which one could see in the distance when approaching
Grandpa Steve's farm.
as long as he could remember, Travis always knew they were
near Grandpa Steve's farm when the barns and silos came
into view. And, though he knew that his mother was aware
that there were not one but two barns, and not one but two
silos, he always said, "Look, Mommy, Grandpa Steve
has two barns and two silos."
Travis," his mother would say, "it's a very big
Steve, you see, was not an ordinary farmer. When he was
a young man he went to university to study all about corn.
"Grandpa Steve knows," Travis's father would say,
"how to make the best corn, corn that can feed the
most livestock. Corn that is smart."
can be smart?" Travis would ask his father when he
said this, even though the boy knew what the answer would
sure can," his dad would reply, "especially when
Grandpa Steve really puts his mind to it and plays with
all his test tubes. He's a farmer and a scientist!"
Travis would always say. "My grandpa is smart!"
so he was.
smarts weren't what young Travis loved about his grandpa.
'Smart' was well and good, but for a little boy in first
grade, it was more that Grandpa Steve was fun! Grandpa Steve
would laugh a hearty laugh and his belly would shake. This
was what Travis loved best about his grandpa.
fact, this was what many people loved best about Grampy
Steve. He was a bit like an ornery Santa Claus, very jolly,
very kindly and generous, but rather mischievous. Grandpa
Steve would tell funny jokes, tease Travis and tease everyone
in the near vicinity. Grandpa Steve had a thick wiry mustache,
which would tickle his cheek when he gave little Travis
a kiss. And this, too, was the boy loved about his grandpa.
these were the things Travis especially loved about his
grandpa. Still, in addition to them, it was also fun to
think of Grandpa Steve playing with his test tubes and making
corn 'smart,' though he couldn't quite imagine how this
was possible. Yet, as we have already established, Travis
was used to mysterious things. He felt, somehow, if Mother
Mary could be mother to the whole world, then surely his
Grandpa, could make corn smart!
Michael D. Purvis