On October 4th, our church held a blessing for the animals. There were twenty-seven animals and seventy-two people at the service. Among the animals were three horses, a white rat, a turtle, several dogs and cats. And yes, Hannah, was among the counted!
In the crowd was a baby girl, who was about 1½. This little one went among the animals saying, “bow-wow, bow-wow.” She moved with great trust and would put herself within reach of many a bow-wow. Hannah was more than happy to reciprocate with a wet kiss on her hands and face.
I was amazed at how much energy it took to help convince Hannah that it was really okay to stay seated or drop to the floor. She was sure that it was her job to play with the dear neighbor and enlist as many new friends as possible. The experience also convinced me that on the night that our savior stayed at the manger, that the animals might not have been as docile as I have pictured them in past Christmas’s.
I learned a great lesson in civility from this evening’s experience. In this environment that was full of differences, the blessing was able to happen. The proud owners of all creatures great and small (even the cats, who don’t have owners, but have servants) accomplished what was necessary to experience the blessing.
In our current arena of daily living, we are challenged by the deluge of words and images that want to convince us of our differences. Let us seek this week to live the words of Francis of Assisi, “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words.” Let us move forward this week, drawing on that love that gives us flexibility around our differences and the insight that unites us in our similarities.