Wednesday, July 22, 2009

pokin' the turkeys

When I was in high school, I worked summers at a camp called Youth Haven Ranch. For one entire summer, I was put in charge of taking care of/running the petting farm at the ranch. It was an interesting summer, for sure.

One thing I remember well, were our turkeys. We had a tom (appropriately named "Tom"), and two hens. Every other area of the petting barn had your normal variety large bars/doors that kids could climb on, reach through and pet the animals. Heck, they could and often did just climb on through to reach the animal they really wanted to pet.

But the poultry cage was different. It had the usual looking bars, but it was also covered from ceiling to floor with chicken wire. This was for obvious reasons...turkeys aren't generally cuddly animals.

It never failed, no matter the age group, there would be several kids who saw the chicken wire as an invitation for fingers. They would poke and prod, especially close to the turkeys when possible. It was usually accompanied by a yell of some sort. "Hey turkey turkey turkey!" "(turkey noises that neither sounded turkey-ish, or very healthy)", "come and get it turkey!!"

No matter how regularly these kids poked their fingers through at the turkeys yelling loudly, it would always come as a complete surprise and alarm when one of them pecked with lightning speed at whatever finger, or close standing person they could get.

Then the 8 year old boy, who seconds earlier was master over the turkeys, looks up at you and you can tell he's trying not to cry. He wants sympathy. He wants you to punish the bad mis-behaving turkey.

And all I could usually come up with was, "What did you expect?"

I'm pretty sure God has a bit more compassion on us when we finally look to him instead of whatever cage we've been poking at. But still - why do we so often seem entertained or interested in getting the attention of these things that we know have no desire but to peck our fingers off? :)

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