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Who Gets Love?

Posted by Eliza, July 6th, 2015

IMG_2163If we are awake to these troubled times, filled with examples of humans’ inhumanity to humankind, we are shaken. We question human nature and, if we are people growing in spirit, our own natures. We look for ways to mend what is broken. We look for all the ways in which the tragic taking of lives DOES NOT tell the whole story, indeed CAN not.

Some people have gently questioned me about why we should care about animals when human beings suffer so, when human lives seem to mean so little and need so much. This is a very important question.

Volunteering at the reception desk of a local animal shelter, I am often witness to deep joy and unimaginable sorrow. People who come to adopt animals and leave with a new companion smile and receive the congratulations of the staff much like a newborn’s family leaving the hospital.

In another nearby room, too often people come to surrender beloved animal companions for a wide variety of reasons: illness or incapacity, moving, death of the owner, allergies. And all too often the reason is homelessness, poverty, or the lack of resources to take care of a medical condition. A few years ago, right after Veterans’ Day a tearful middle aged woman surrendered her two little dogs because she had lost her job and feared she would lose her home. She wanted to do the right thing for them. I later learned that she was a veteran.

All our lives intertwine and matter greatly; that animals offer connection and comfort, emotional nurture and healing to ALL people, or should. One more sign that something’s gone terribly wrong in the way people have access to basic needs is that animal companions are fast becoming a privilege reserved for those who can afford them. Those with limited means struggle to feed, get medical care for, and – all too often these days – house their companion animals.

The loss and the pain are mostly invisible, privately enacted in shelters across the city. We judge those who abandon their animal companions, and certainly some are irresponsible. Others suffer the shame that comes from not being able to give care to those they love. Compassion for their suffering calls us to act.

If you can, consider giving both human and cat and dog food to the your local food pantry this summer before you go on vacation. People experience food insecurity for their pets as well as for themselves. And you might consider donating to your local shelter to help cover their costs, including medical expenses.

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Surviving Grief

Posted by Eliza, February 25th, 2015

In New England, as you’ve undoubtedly heard, over one hundred inches of snow and ice trap us in, oh so many ways! Our plaints – or rants- about the unusually harsh weather, remind me that when overwhelmed by nature, we experience loss: of independence, of material well-being, of freedoms, of human contact, of control over how we spend our time (Shoveling, chiseling icicles!), of peace of mind (What next?), and more. Many of us are feeling feel aggrieved, as seen in expressions of denial, anger, bargaining, and depression.

Despite the weather this past month, a hearty band of congregants from a local church met three times for what turned out to be a MOST appropriately titled workshop, “Making Light in the Darkness.” In timeless fashion, we honored the darkness within and without with candle light, storytelling, and sharing our successes as well as our stumblings. We tried different forms of spiritual practice, including Laugh Yoga – yes, it’s a real thing, Google it! Simply being together helped us regain our perspective and our hope.

By the third session, we trusted one another enough that we tackled sharing something intimate: we were asked to share when we fell in love with something (place, person, animal, etc.). Sitting in a dim, warm room on one of the coldest nights, we sat and wrote, remembering. Faces reflected puzzlement, joy, rue, and surprise. And we told our stories, full of love and passion, sadness and shyness, all kinds of feelings emerged and were witnessed quietly, tenderly. I won’t ever forget the power of that small circle to shatter our aloneness, our depression, our fear. This is what I offer those of you who are grieving: make time and space for sadness; reach out to compassionate folks; share your stories, memories, loves. And then let time, blessed time, do its healing work.

As we move toward spring, we’ll learn again that in reaching out to one another, supporting one another in ways large and small, and in letting go of some expectations we will gain meaning and depth: we may reach that final stage of grief – acceptance. Or a more meaningful and interconnected lifestyle. Or simply an awareness that we are indeed all in the same ice-bound boat. May we together breathe in peace, and breathe out love.
Berkshires 044

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