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Grandpa Steve
and the Mysterious Chicken!

A story for children, youths and the young at heart
which helps to promote an appreciation for the importance of
mystery, creativity, perseverance, and life-purpose
 
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Grandpa Steve and the Mysterious Chicken!

 

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Grandpa 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.

And so begins our story. Who would guess that Grandpa Steve, whom little Travis so loved to visit, would come to change and help the whole world? Who would guess as well that Grammie Marnie, the long- suffering wife of Grandpa Steve was not the only other inhabitant of this farm? There was as well, co-existing on this farm, a 'mysterious chicken' embodying the presence of mystery, as well as other unseen intangible presences.

What were these presences? There was the unshakeable belief of Grammie Marnie and her daughter in the benign presence of Mother Mary who stood in her shrine down the road. There was, too, the belief in the presence of the mysterious chicken by Grandpa Steve and his grandson, Travis. And, there was the presence of perseverance in Grandpa Steve as he 'tinkered with all his test tubes.'

What would be the fruit of all these intangible yet oh so important presences? Could the mysterious chicken be the symbol for something important to the family who would come to witness a strange, unusual and wonderful event on this farm?

 

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Table of Contents:

Introduction

Acknowledgements

Our Story
"Grandpa Steve and the Mysterious Chicken!"

Chapter One through Thirteen

Appendix
A Listing of Abundant Change Books and Recordings
Music-Outreach Nostalgic & Uplifting Books & Recordings
by Michael D. Purvis

 


Excerpts from Book:

Introduction

Oh 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.

I 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.

We 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.

Have 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…

Enjoy!

The author

 

Chapter One

Grandpa 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.

Each 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.

If 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.

Yet 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.

Each 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.

Once 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.

He 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 dress.

Though 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 of Charity.

This 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.

As 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.

And 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.

It 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 and possibility.

He 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.

What was the history of this shrine, and why had Travis' mother made it a part of their routine?

Well, 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 years old!

Now 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.

Travis' 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.

Now 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 Travis lived.

Now 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.

For 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."

"Yes, Travis," his mother would say, "it's a very big farm, indeed."

And it was.

Grandpa 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."

"Corn can be smart?" Travis would ask his father when he said this, even though the boy knew what the answer would be.

"It 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!"

"Wow!" Travis would always say. "My grandpa is smart!"

And so he was.

But 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.

In 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.

Yes, 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!

2005, Michael D. Purvis

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