Sunday, August 28, 2011

I wanna be a dog...or maybe a cat

An Animal Blessing Service
August 28, 2011


Welcome to our Animal Blessing service, all you humans and the animals who brought you here. I want to start off by asking you to help me read a poem that needs some sound effects, okay? This is actually a song, but we're going to use it as a poem. Here’s how it goes. Every time you hear me say “O I wanna be a dog”, I want you to pant like a dog (hhhh) four times and again after the next phrase. You’ll catch on really quickly, I’m sure!

O I wanna be a dog (hhhh), wanna wag my tail (hhhh)
Chase cars and knock over garbage cans,
Bite the lady who brings the mail!

O I wanna be a dog…, wanna drool on the floor ….
Get pats on the head, chase cats, get fed,
Chew your shoes and bark at the door.

O I wanna be a dog… wanna dig big holes….
Wanna sniff French poodles and basset hounds
And pee on telephone poles.

O I wanna be a dog….wanna big wet nose….
Wanna run in the street, get mud on m’feet
And jump up onto your clothes!

I wanna have dog breath, I wanna learn to growl,
Scratch fleas and ticks and run after sticks
I want the moon to make me howl!

O I wanna be a dog….I wanna sleep on the ground….
Bein’ human these days is just a little crazed,
I just wanna be a hound!

How many of you would just as soon be a dog sometimes? Especially when things get a little nutso in your life? Wouldn’t it be nice to be a dog and get treats and do tricks and just give doggie kisses to everyone? Instead of having to pay bills and go to the store and mow the yard and do all those human things? Of course, not all dogs have it that easy, but I’d want to be a nice Golden retriever in a nice family.

Or who would like to be a cat? Cats have a pretty good life----all that cream and petting and bossing the humans around. Cats kind of run my house----they meow me awake in the morning, they meow for me to pet them or give them food, they hog all the extra space on the bed so I can hardly move. They have a pretty good life at my house. Of course, I’m not that crazy about Max’s tendency to bring in dead critters for me to clean up. I know they’re presents from him, but I didn’t ask for them!

Did you ever hear the story about how pets were created? It was recently discovered and here’s how I heard it:
 A newly discovered chapter in the Book of Genesis in the Bible has provided the answer to "Where do pets come from?" It is now part of the ancient story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden.

Adam said, "Lord, when I was in the garden, you walked with me everyday. Now I do not see you anymore. I am lonesome here and it is difficult for me to remember how much you love me."

And God said, "No problem! I will create a companion for you that will be with you forever and who will be a reflection of my love for you, so that you will love me even when you cannot see me. Regardless of how selfish or childish or unlovable you may be, this new companion will accept you as you are and will love you as I do, in spite of yourself."

And God created a new animal to be a companion for Adam. And it was a good animal. And God was pleased.

And the new animal was pleased to be with Adam and he wagged his tail. And Adam said, "Lord, I have already named all the animals in the Kingdom and I cannot think of a name for this new animal."

And God said, "No problem! Because I have created this new animal to be a reflection of my love for you, his name will be a reflection of my own name, and you will call him DOG."

And Dog lived with Adam and was a companion to him and loved him. And Adam was comforted. And God was pleased. And Dog was content and wagged his tail.
 After a while, it came to pass that Adam's guardian angel came to the Lord and said, "Lord, Adam has become filled with pride. He struts and preens like a peacock and he believes he is worthy of adoration. Dog has indeed taught him that he is loved, but perhaps a little too well."

And God said, "No problem! I will create for him a companion who will be with him forever and who will see him as he is. The companion will remind him of his limitations, so he will know that he is not always worthy of adoration."

And God created CAT to be a companion to Adam. And Cat would not obey Adam. And when Adam gazed into Cat's eyes, he was reminded that he was not the supreme being.

And Adam learned humility. And God was pleased. And Adam was greatly improved. And Dog was happy. And Cat didn't give a hoot one way or the other.

But you know, it’s not just our pets who make our lives on this earth more worthwhile. There are animals and other living creatures who also help to keep our lives in balance and teach us good lessons about living.

St. Francis of Assisi lived over 800 years ago in Italy and he loved animals too. Stories are told about St. Francis taming a wolf who had been scaring a small village, about his preaching to the birds, and protecting the creatures of the woods and fields. Our blessing today of the animals we care for is to show our understanding and our agreement with St. Francis’s idea that animals are so important in our lives that we must always protect them and take care of them.

We have come to understand that we must not use animals carelessly, that if they work for us, as horses and cows and donkeys and dogs and other working animals do, we have a responsibility to see that they do not work too hard or too long or under bad conditions and that they receive good care, good food, good shelter.

Many of us have come to understand that using animals for food is something that must be done carefully and respectfully. Some of us don’t eat meat any more. Some of us eat only plants and their products for food. Some of us eat meat and fish but look for meat and fish that is humanely produced. And we don’t eat too much of it or eat it just because it’s the trendy thing to do.

Our relationships with animals, whether they are our pets or our source of food or work or the wildlife we see in the fields and forest and oceans, must be in balance. We must not overfish the oceans; we must not overwork our work animals; we must not use up animals or animal habitat unnecessarily.

When our earth and its creatures are in balance, our lives are more in balance too. We are happier when our animals are happy and well-cared-for. We receive so much love from our pets when they are happy and we feel bad when they are sick or injured or afraid.

What does it feel like to be out of balance? When you are dizzy, what does that feel like? Being dizzy is a kind of being out of balance. We can’t walk straight, we feel a little sick, we might even fall down. It’s not very much fun to be dizzy, even if sometimes we do it to be funny.

So we bless our animals today to tell them in our own way that they are important to us, that they help keep our lives in balance, and that we appreciate all that they do for us.

And what is a blessing, you might ask? A blessing is a very strong wish and hope for good things for someone or, in this case, for our animals. When we bless them, we are wishing and hoping that they will have good health, good things to happen to them, good people to take care of them. And we are also promising them that we will help them have good health, good things, good people in their lives.

Our behavior toward our animals tells them even better than words that we care for them. So we are promising them the blessing of our good care. They bless us every time they purr or lick our face or take us for rides or give us eggs or milk or meat. And even when they do something naughty, like my Max does every once in awhile, I still promise to take good care of him, even when I’m a bit mad at him.

How we’re going to do our blessing is this: We’ll do smaller animals first and work our way up through the dogs and larger animals. And we’ll go outside to bless horses and other larger animals. I’m going to ask the owner what the animal’s name is and then I’m going to say, “Bless you _____ and may you live a long and happy and healthy life.” And we’ll give each animal a treat.

At the end of the blessing, we’ll have a time of silence in memory of all the dear animals that have blessed our lives and have given us so much love before they died. During that time of silence, I’ll invite you to call out the names of those animals who have died and whose memory still gives us joy, even though we miss them very much.

Before we sing our final song, I will lead us in a commitment promise to our animals, saying out loud a pledge to treat animals with care and respect, in our homes, in our lands, and in meeting our food needs.

SILENCE (chime, speak names)

COMMITMENT PLEDGE (repeat after me)
I promise to treat the animals in my life with respect and care.
I promise to care for my pets by giving them good food, shelter, and love.
I promise to care for wildlife/ by caring for the forests, fields, and oceans where they live.
I promise to care for working animals by treating them kindly and gently.
I promise to care for food animals/ by respecting the gift they give with their bodies.
I make these promises knowing that my life is connected to theirs.
May it be so.
SONG: All God’s Critters

1 comment:

Charlie Talbert said...

"They bless us every time they purr or lick our face or take us for rides or give us eggs or milk or meat."

Other beings do not GIVE humans their eggs, milk, and flesh, because they want to live lives free from confinement, suffering, and slaughter as much as we do.