reKINdling through the Blessing of the Animals
by Victoria Loorz
This month, we at Echoes are focusing on another RE word…rekindle, as in rekindling your love for your spouse after the kids move away. That kind of rekindle. But I’m intrigued by another use of rekindle. As in re-KIN. Become kin again. It is a call to remember that we are already kin with all created beings, with all creatures and more-than-human-others. But, because of centuries of (what I think is intentional) perceived separation, it is urgently important to remember that we belong in a larger family than a couple of parents and siblings. We are intimately connected with All That Is.
Saint Francis, whose feast happened this week and in whose name the lovely Blessing of the Animals service is dedicated, was consistent in calling all Others kin: Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Wolf, Sister Starling. Emma told a story this morning during Wild Church about how Francis went to talk to his brother, the Wolf when his human kinsmen wanted to go hunt down the wolf out of fear. Francis had a chat with his brother and the wolf didn’t bother the village again. I want to talk to wolves like that. Gathered among us this morning were a handful of humans, including Joanna Schmidt, our Bellinghamster guest for Monday night’s Hamster Church. Among other gifts, she has developed a similar ability to talk to animals, and to listen to them. 6:30 pm Monday, Oct 7 at the Old Parish Hall. Just a quick plug.
Joanna and her husband brought two amazing friends whom they are foster parenting until someone comes and offers these two cuddly ladies a permanent home. Charis offered kind and holy blessings for all the wolf descendants in attendance, and a few whose photos were shared to proffer proper blessings. Oh, it was so lovely. The pups also were the privileged recipients of Communion Jerky that Emma got permission from Molly to share. The body and the blood of Christ offered to all beings.
We began Wild Church this morning with a reminder from the Old Testament, from the Book of Job, that animals and the earth herself has wisdom to share with us…if only we’d listen:
“But ask the animals, and they will teach you,
or the birds of the air, and they will tell you;
or speak to the earth, and it will teach you,
or let the fish of the sea inform you.
Which of all these does not know
that the hand of the LORD has done this?
In God's hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all humankind.”
And an invocation I adapted from my friend, Gary Nabham, an eco-theologian, a Franciscan oblate, and a farmer who launches his Wild Church in southern Arizona this weekend:
Invocation for the Blessing of the Wild Animals
Our Creator is the Elder on the trail blessing the herds and flocks.
Let us also bless the herds and the flocks!
Our Creator is the Shepard seeking out the lost, the rare and those at risk,
Bringing them back to safety.
Let us also care for the lost, the rare and those at risk!
Our Creator cares for the migrants facing perils and walls along their way.
Let us also pray for safe passage for all kinds of migrants.
Our Creator listens for the ones who have taken flight.
Let us also listen & support those in flight.
Let us now, each in our own turn, offers blessings and prayers for the wild animals
Who move through the lands and waters around us, enriching our own lives.
Let us bless the wild among us.
Let us bless the wild among us.
Bless the bald eagles and the swans and other migrating birds who move cryptically among us, crossing borders and facing perils that threaten their survival. Let our prayers travel with them.
Bless the Great Blue Heron who have been displaced from their nests by construction and extraction. Let our prayers travel with them.
Bless the chum, chinook, pink, sockeye and coho who swim through our streams, whose life journeys have been interrupted by human obstruction. Let our prayers travel with them.
Bless the deer and squirrels and raccoons, the crows, ducks, rabbits and bats, and all the creatures who adapt to human-adjusted habitat and co-exist easily with us. Protect them from cars and poisons and may they find food and safety. Let our prayers travel with them.
Bless the orca whose hunting grounds have been decimated by overfishing and climate changes affecting the sea. In their struggle to survive, Let our prayers travel with them.
Bless the tree frogs who swim through our streams, whose life journeys have been interrupted by human obstruction. Let our prayers travel with them.
Bless the cougars and owls, the coyotes and bears and other predators who need to be stealth and stay hidden to survive. Let our prayers travel with them.
Bless the domestic animals on farms and in our homes. May we be compassionate friends and care for them, as they companion with us. Let our prayers be with them.
And, as our Benediction, we heard from Father Zossima, the great priest from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s brilliant novel, The Brothers Karamazov:
“Every blade of grass, every insect, ant, and golden bee, all so marvelously know their path; though they have not intelligence, they bear witness to the mystery of God and continually accomplish it them-selves.”
“Love all of God’s creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light! Love the animals. Love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will soon perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.”
Thank you. What a blessing and honor to share these sacred moments with friends, human, dog, bluejay, black squirrel, and all.