Little Scurry laid her first egg behind the old recycling bin. (Note to self: lock chickens in run until they figure out the nest box). It was a tiny egg, a fragile brown the color of dust and pond water. She behaved strangely all morning, throwing sticks on her back and clucking about as the egg-laying circuits in her delicate pea-brain lit up. She tried to come into the house and managed to get herself wedged between the screen and glass door. And then there it was, a warm egg in a dirt crater.
How do we receive the gift of an egg? It’s a small thing, but precious–all the nutrients of grasshoppers and tomatoes and blades of fescue driven down into a sun-gold yolk. We couldn’t just gobble it up. We had to receive and return the blessing in some way.
Not long ago, I discovered a lovely little volume called the Rural Life Prayerbook, originally published some 50 years ago by the Catholic Rural Life Conference, an agrarian outfit dedicated to preserving rural communities and family farms. It contains blessings for a wide swath of country life and agricultural products. Underlying the book is a deep sense of God’s desire to meet human beings through the vector of simple material objects–the “sacramental principle” in Catholic thought. There’s a blessing for cheese or lard, a blessing for bees, a blessing for sick farm animals, and–thankfully for us–a blessing for eggs. I’ve pasted it below.
We gathered with our sons on the back porch to perform the blessing. We said the words for the Blessing of Eggs: versicle/response/let us pray. Then we went inside for lunch: hard-boiled eggs, red tomatoes, and zucchini slices fried in olive oil.
We received the gift of the egg by blessing it, stepping into the eternal, trinitarian communion of receiving and returning. Thanks be to God. Amen.
BLESSING OF EGGS
V. Our help is in the name of the Lord. R. Who has made heaven and earth. V. The Lord be with you. R. And with your spirit. Let us pray. We beg of You, Lord, to let the grace of Your blessing come upon these eggs which You have made. May they be healthful food for Your people, who eat them in thanksgiving for the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and is King with You for ever and ever. R. Amen.