The UUCS Annual Blessing of the Animals Service will be held (both services) in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron Saint of animals and the environment. St. Francis was a lover of nature and all of what he considered God’s creations.
For this special multigenerational service (all ages stay together for the service), you are welcome to bring your well behaved two-legged and four-legged animal friends. Please be sure that they are on a leash or in a carrier. Stuffed Animals may stand-in for your furry friends.
The service will include a time to celebrate the life of your pets that have passed away. Please bring pictures to place on the altar.
During fellowship/coffee time, local organizations that help animals will have tables set-up in the fellowship hall sharing about the volunteer opportunities available. RE will have dog treats and cat toys for sale. These items can be purchased with a donation. Purchases can be taken home or put in the donation box for Willamette Humane Society.
Years ago, when I was a very young man, some friends and I found summer jobs working on a large farm in British Columbia in the Okanagan Valley right across the border. We thinned out the apple trees and picked many very tasty cherries, some of which ended up in my mouth. A bit later we also picked apricots, which were the biggest, sweetest, juiciest delicious apricots I’ve ever tasted. I discovered that I did like eating the fruit, but picking it, hour after hour quickly became hard and boring – so today whenever I eat food I try to think about all those who worked so hard to raise, harvest, deliver and sell it.
It’s good to know where your food comes from.
That summer I saw a pig who lived on this farm – his name was “Kimo” which I was told meant “friend” in a native American language (not sure if that’s true). Kimo was being raised for….well, you know why. My co-workers said that it was OK if we fed Kimo food scraps, so I started doing that. “He’s pretty friendly, actually,” one said as he leaned over the fence and started scratching him. I joined in and could tell that Kimo liked being scratched.
After that I was always the one who took leftovers to Kimo. I discovered that he also loved to have me rub his snout and that he actually seemed to love me – he really seemed to know who I was and could come up close to the fence whenever I passed. And I actually came to love Kimo. I loved to scratch him and say kind things to him and wish him well. Before I had just thought that pigs were dirty, stupid animals. Now I knew that they were very smart, had feelings.
Today, I don’t even remember if I got to say goodbye to Kimo – another better paying job on a forest firefighting crew (boy was I bad at that!) came up and I left rather suddenly. I think maybe it was going to make me feel too sad to say goodbye and I didn’t want anyone seeing me cry saying goodbye to a pig – my friend Kimo.
Now I wish I could have said goodbye to him – to bless him and tell him that I loved him and wished that the rest of his life would be a good one.
Today is animal blessing Sunday – when we welcome, affirm and bless the animals in our lives. We observe animal blessing Sunday today because the first Sunday of October is traditionally when many churches and congregations lift up the example of St. Frances of Assisi (1182-1226), who was known for his special love for and friendship with many animals.
Yet really, I think every day can be, should be, animal blessing day. The animals of the world are our fellow beings. We are more clever and powerful than they are and unfortunately we overpower and outwit them and often do not treat them very well. The more you can learn about this, the better, because then you will want to help change things and make it better.
What can you do to show our ongoing love for animals, I ask myself? Well, I can take our border Collie, Polo, for nice long walks, because he loves that. I can slow down when I drive through the neighborhood because there are lots of squirrels crossing the street in the fall looking for nuts and I don’t want to hurt one. I can watch out for other animals to care for. I can think about what I eat and what others eat and how we can maybe begin to change this so that so many animals don’t have to suffer. I think we can do that – it would be good for us and the animals and for our planet. There’s so much we can do to better bless the animals in our world!
To begin, just slow down and make friends with some animal – especially ones that might be neglected or abused. If you make good friends with an animal, allow your feelings of love to arise, then really you’re on your way, for love will guide you.
Topics: Blessing of the Animals