Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Honoring the Sacredness of Animals

I have a good friend who blew me away recently, when she explained a practice that she has been doing for some time.

My friend is an advocate for animals. She loves animals, is a vegetarian, and will not wear leather. She truly believes animals are beings that deserve the same respect that humans do. Unlike some who profess these beliefs, she lives them day in and day out.

One thing that really troubles her is to see animals who have been killed by automobiles on the road. To her, it seems like a disrespectful, unacknowledged death. She decided to do something about this.

She keeps in the trunk of her car, a shovel and a number of small stones (like grave markers). Whenever she encounters a dead animal on the road, she stops, removes the body from the road, puts it to the side, and sets a stone by the animal, to acknowledge it's existence and its value. Beautiful.

We had a long discussion about this. She is deeply grieved and affected to see animals dead on the road like that. Yet, she feels compelled to do something. She can't just drive by and leave the animal to meet its end there. She stops. She takes a moment. She perplexes passers by. She acknowledges the sanctity of life. She grieves the loss. It's powerful.

She has had people stop to see if she needs assistance. She has had people honk at her rudely, as if to say she's inconveniencing them, and she's had no apparent response at all. I really believe her practice is a ministry. She is helping people be 'aware' that something has happened that is worthy of note. When an animal, or any being loses its life, something has happened. We are so numb to so many aspects of our lives! She is giving a moment of awareness to an event that matters.

Who knows what impact she might have in this practice. Maybe someone will slow down a bit and avoid hitting an animal they might otherwise have killed. Maybe someone will reflect a bit on the sacredness and importance of life itself. She may never know, but that doesn't diminish by one bit the importance of the act itself.

My friends, Fred and Mary Ann Brusset of Spirituality and Practice ( put forth a very similar practice in their e-course on 'Practicing Spirituality with Animals.' Here is a link to the on-demand e-course if you'd like to take read more about it: Practicing Spirituality with Animals

While not everyone is called to do this particular practice... some most definitely are. It is a powerful ministry!

Life is sacred. All life. It deserves respect and reverence!

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