Candling

Photo of a developing quail egg. Note the veins and the dark mass.
Both photos by Zoe Biniaris
Photo of a non-developing quail egg.
Note the light shining all the way through. No veins or mass.

There are currently 17 quail eggs in an incubator in my living room. They are more than halfway through their incubation period and are due to hatch in about a week.

I have to admit, I’m a little nervous about it. 

What if they don’t make it? What if I do something wrong and a little quail chick dies? 

What if the eggs aren’t fertile?

There is actually a method of checking up on the fertility and development of chicks even while they are still nestled in the eggs. It is called candling.

Basically, it involves shining a bright light on one end of the egg while holding the light flush up against the eggshell.

For a fertilized egg that is growing correctly, first you see veins. It almost looks like a microscopic placenta.

As the egg develops you start to see growth, and sometimes movement.

And it is just astoundingly wonderful to witness.

But then in some other eggs you shine the bright light on it and see nothing. No veins, no dark mass, no movement. For whatever reason, one egg can grow nothing while the egg beside it thrives.

And there is no real accounting for the difference. Presumably they were both handled in the same way. They arrived via the same padded box in the mail. They were placed lovingly into the same cozy environment. And yet one developed while another did not.

I don’t know exactly how to make sense of this, but maybe that is the point. 

Life is mysterious. 

When given the same exact variables, two things can turn out completely differently or not turn out at all.

Watching these eggs incubate, waiting for them to hatch or not to hatch, has been eye-opening for me. I get to witness firsthand the miracle of development or the lack thereof. 

And really, both of those things are miracles. We shine the very same light on them and see completely different things. Sometimes there is mass and substance. And sometimes there is only light.

And really I can’t do very much to determine their outcomes at this point. 

All I can do is bear witness to the mystery, the ability to do which is a mystery in and of itself.

Something I love about yoga is that it is not easily defined. It, too, is mysterious in that sense.

And it is a little like an incubator. It provides a safe and cozy space to lean into the mystery that is you.

It shines a light on the mystery that is your mind, your breath, and your body.

And we honor that mystery the only way that we can: by leaning into it, by bearing witness, by continuing to show up and bring light. 

Want to practice yoga with me? Sign up for the 21-Day Calm Your Mind Challenge!

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