Rather than being enemies of Gracie and the other chickens, ravens and crows are portrayed as friends who provide help along with cryptic insights. The Raven With Blue Eyes is a key supporting character. This is from the section of The Shoebox titled “ÏHÏ!” which is their word for “Friend.”
After their evening treats, everyone went up to the coop except for Gracie. As she looked around to make sure all was as it should be, a raven landed softly on the garden fence. She was the most exquisitely beautiful bird Gracie had ever seen. As beautiful as the colors of the sunset were that evening, her black feathers with their glossy perfection were even more beautiful.
But it was not her feathers Gracie noticed first. It was her eyes. All ravens have blue eyes when they are young, but they turn to gray and then brown as they grow older. This was a fully grown raven who still had blue eyes, just as clear and blue as a summer sky.
This raven was special. Gracie could tell. Even though a raven had never alighted in our backyard garden, there was something extraordinary about her presence and Gracie felt an immediate connection to this one whom she had never met.
Just as Gracie began to bow as a greeting of respect, the raven stopped her by speaking.
“How did you know my name? Did The Robin send you?”
“I have a message from a friend who is a Guardian. You have a strong mind and an even stronger heart. Even though that friend once laughed at you and called you ‘Princess’ do not let that word or any other hurtful words prevent you from carrying out your plan.”
“Did Lefty send you?”
“The one who sent me is only known by my kind as Guardian. Who sent the message is not as important as the message itself. Do not let hurtful words stop you.”
“What is your kind?”
“We are Messengers.”
“Are you part of The Living Library?”
“I am a Messenger and I have brought words to you from a friend who is a Guardian. Do not let hurtful words stop you. That is all you need to know.”
The Raven looked at Gracie.
“I have said the words I was given to say. Now I will say what my own heart wants to say.”
As she relaxed, Gracie watched her silhouette against the sunset shifting from hard and angular to soft and rounded.
“I am sorry for having been so stern with you. We are so different, you and I, and yet so much alike. My job is more than just delivering messages. It is also to protect the sweet and innocent ones like you.
“My heart has been changed by what I have seen and by what I have had to do to defend others. I do not want that to happen to your heart.”
Gracie watched as the blue of The Raven’s eyes seemed to cloud over and become a stormy grey. It was as if she was remembering what her heart was once like.
“That is what happened to Bessie’s heart, isn’t it?” asked Gracie. “After the cat scratched her and her comb grew crooked, her heart changed.”
“It may be too late for me, but it is not too late for her. There is more happening than what you may realize.
“There is not much time. The love she has been holding on to will not last much longer. Love must be able to flow into and out of a heart. Love must be able to dance from one heart to another. Love is like a breath, like the wind. You do not know where it comes from or where it is going. You only know it must keep moving or it will no longer exist. Love gives life.
“Ravens know these things, and my blue eyes see things other eyes can not see.”
“Like what?” asked Gracie.
“Like the color of love. It is indescribably iridescent. It flows and flutters like a ribbon in a breeze.”
“I wish I could see like you.”
“Sometimes this seeing is not such a great gift. It also means being able to see the color of the absence of love, an unpleasant color that devours all other colors. It is the emptiest of all colors.”
“Can it devour us too?”
“Not when you call someone your friend. Whenever you call someone your friend aloud, you breathe out love. Then you do not need to see it with eyes like mine. You only need to feel it with a heart like yours or Bessie’s.”
“ÏHÏ, Raven,” said Gracie.
As she spoke, she could feel the love in her heart being breathed out. Then she watched as a sparkling iridescence passed over and through The Raven’s eyes as a hint of calm peace crossed her face.
“Unless you face your own Biggest Scary Thing, Bessie may never be able to overcome her own Biggest Scary Thing. When tomorrow comes, know in your heart that you are so much more than good enough. And then dance, ÏHÏ. Dance.”
With that, The Raven With Blue Eyes flew off, leaving only the sudden chill of the evening air blowing through Gracie’s fluff feathers.
There was a cold front coming. Gracie could already feel the change beginning, and she hurried up the chicken ladder and into the coop.