by Renaissance Girl
I love the feast of St.Francis. I start looking forward to the Blessing of the Animals about a week before it happens. This year it took place in the atrium of our church. It had rained most of the day and the sky was still dark so we gathered under cover of the atrium roof.
It’s a beautiful chaos — dogs, cats, rabbits, turtles, and even a lizard. Some of them snuggle close to their owners while others lurch out, trying to meet all the others. Someone barks a hello from across the circle and people smile at the honest exuberance of an animal. We bless them and then disperse, a few playful romps springing up along the way – or a final snarl letting the others know who’s boss.
What I love is the sense that a meeting of spirits has just happened that we really don’t even know. I can’t argue all the theology of whether animals have souls or not, but I believe there are things they see that we can’t. I’ve sometimes caught my dog staring at something intently in the air that I certainly am not seeing. And I am often stunned at what animals teach us about love, and forgiveness, and total abandonment to whatever’s in front of them — living in the moment.