Elusive, these days, are the sights of hens with their brood of chicks tagging behind them. But, if you go to the countryside, you’ll be greeted with such endearing scenes near farmsteads and in the fields. It is truly entertaining to watch the chicks following the mother hen wherever she goes. The mother hen, on her part, is wise in her ways to exhibit behaviours that her little ones would follow to learn.
A psychologist by the name of Konrad Lorenz was intrigued by these sights. He keenly observed the phenomenon of some species of animals forming an attachment to the first large moving object that they meet (it may be any object, not necessarily a parent animal). After conducting intensive research, Lorenz came to the conclusion that this phenomenon is innate and programmed genetically. He named this process ‘imprinting’. Most animals acquire their locomotor skills by imprinting.
Imprinting is not proven in humans, though babies are seen to imitate their caregivers in various respects. Be it in animals or in humans, caregivers are known to train their young ones as they go about their day-to-day activities.
A mother hen ensures that her chicks follow her to the right places to pick on the right type of fodder. The chicks observe their mother picking on certain worms and insects and leaving out certain others. These, they understand are poisonous. Also, the chicks learn from their mother’s behaviours how to identify the predators and ways to escape from their clutches. Sensing danger and inclement weather conditions, the hen calls out to her little ones in her special language and the chicks hurry to the safety of their mother’s wings.
The role of the mother hen is to train, guide, protect and make her chicks capable enough to survive and fend for themselves in the world.
But, not all chicks are sensitive and obedient to their mother’s voice and behavior. There are those who prefer to go their own way. They are the ones who learn their life lessons the hard way. At times, they don’t live to learn the lesson!
Looking at this picture and penning these lines, I am reminded of God’s ways of training and nurturing human beings. He shows the footprints that need to be followed and calls out to each of us in languages that we can well understand. He points out where enemies lurk around to pounce on us. Those who are sensitive and obedient to His voice walk confident of their ways – may be in rugged terrains, but sure of the grip of every step they take.
However, there are those who choose not to be sensitive to His call and care. They opt to go their own ways. Still, God spreads out His love as a mother hen spreads out her wings to protect her chicks from harm.
Indeed, God is gracious and merciful in His ways – teaching us amidst myriad life events, the ways to live and emerge victorious. Are we willing to learn under His loving care?