Did you know that in other countries they don’t keep their eggs refrigerated? They are just stored at room temperature, on the counter, in a basket, and they don’t go bad. When my chickens first started laying, I was nervous that we wouldn’t gather the eggs quickly enough and they would rot before we got them to the nice, safe, sterile fridge.
Then I learned about the “bloom.”
The egg bloom is an invisible coating from the chicken’s body that seals the eggshell’s pores. It serves as a shield and a strengthening agent, keeping bacteria out and moisture in. With the bloom in place, the egg is protected and strong- just as it is. An egg will stay fresher in its natural state, than it will washed and preserved in the fridge.
Now, if you don’t have chickens of your own, you may not know that those beautifully colored, organic eggs get a little dirty in the process of being laid. Chickens aren’t very discriminating birds and they will lay their eggs in the same place that they lay (AHEM) other things. When the kids bring the egg basket in each day there are feathers, dirt, and (AHEM) other stuff stuck to them. I may dust them off a bit, but I do not wash them.
See, in washing off the crap and feathers and dirt, I’d also wash off the natural, magical bloom. Clean eggs rot a lot faster. Sometimes when friends are over and see my basket of dirty eggs I feel a little embarrassed. Like I have to explain that it’s not laziness or an oversight. That there is something important and strong under the filth.
Obviously, I wash the eggs before I crack them open to use them, and I wash them before I pack them to sell. There are times that clean eggs are called for. But in everyday life, dirty eggs on the counter is a practice in vulnerability. It’s a standoff with our sterile, hygienic, unblemished culture.
God has me on a couple of really vulnerable journeys right now. Really. Vulnerable. And let me promise you that I have been really tempted to clean up my crap before I came to the table. Really. Tempted. I want to dust off the dirt and the feathers and show up pretty and unblemished too. I want to put my best, most put-together foot forward, and then rush to safe sterile places of life, friendship, marriage, and faith.
We’ve all felt it, haven’t we? The wilting and rotting when we show up all clean and shiny and not at all our selves? Not at all honest with our junk, nodding polite heads and staying in the hygienic middle ground rather than the gritty corners of real life? Not at all vulnerable – expiring by the second? Feeling the hope seeping out, and the unmet expectations creep in?
But I’m trying to learn the lessons these dirty eggs and this invisible bloom are teaching me. Do I trust that God sent me to these places, on these hard journeys with what I need to survive? Do I trust that there is something strong and important underneath my ugly too? Something needed and magical? Something invisibly keeping my nature in tact, the presence of God in, and the rot of the world out?
Clean eggs are acceptable, I get it. No one would choose to buy dirty eggs at the store. We are repulsed by the idea of it. Clean people are acceptable too… cleaned up marriages and parenting and homes and answers. There are plenty of places my crap isn’t welcome and I wouldn’t be safe with my feathers showing. Noted. But there has to be a space I can come vulnerable, real, natural, surviving and thriving underneath the dirt.
Dirty eggs stay fresh longer.
Shiny stories rot pretty quickly. There is no magic in the gleam. We trade a cleaned up outside for a dying inside. Or we are brave and risk our dirt and feathers showing, knowing that vulnerability really is a bloom. It blooms safety and healing and conversations and space for well, space.
Don’t clean up too quickly. Safe, sterile, and unblemished are overrated. Let’s all us dirty eggs find a basket on a countertop and outlast the fake smiles and carefully crafted answers together. Let’s trust the we are strong and protected not in spite of the bloom of vulnerability, but because of it.