Creatures of one Earth

by Helen Heath OAM, executive officer of the Interfaith Network of the City of Greater Dandenong

October 4 is the Feast Day of Giovanni di Pietro di Bernardone, or as he is more commonly known – St Francis of Assisi.

St Francis is the patron saint of the animals and the natural environment.

Ceremonies for the blessing of pets and other creatures are held on his feast day (World Animal Day).

Francis of Assisi once said that the animals of creation inhabit the skies, the earth and the sea and have a part in human life; he then prayed for blessings on the animals over all the creatures of the earth.

Animals are very important to us, whether they are pets or working animals, and they are as much a part of creation as we are.

We are interconnected symbolically and learn from our lived experience with all of Earth’s creatures.

Doves can be seen as symbols of love, peace, and innocence; the lion as courage and strength in overcoming difficulties; the butterfly as transformation and renewal as it emerges from the cocoon; the cow as a nurturer giving milk; the owl as a source of wisdom; dogs as a powerful symbol of unconditional love, loyalty, and protection; the cat as a symbol of intelligence, protection, independence, agility, and curiosity; the eagle as a symbol of power, action, speed and perception; birds as one of elevation, enlightenment, hope, and wisdom.

We form strong spiritual bonds with our animal companions that are pure and innocent, a buffer to everyday stress and the basic human fears of separation and abandonment.

Every time we love an animal, share their feelings, laugh at their antics, or grieve their death, we forge a sacred bond.

Anatole France has said “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”

On this special day of offering blessings for our pets and all other creatures great and small, we focus on celebrating the bond of love and respect that animals have with us as their humans, and the bond that we as humans have with all of creation.

Every creature is important and the love we give to creation, that we give and receive from a pet, can draw us more deeply into the larger circle of life, into the wonder of our common relationship to all of Creation.

On this special day, let us bless our pets with Light and Love.

May our animal friends have good health, happy lives and always be protected and safe.

Let us ask for better understanding as we learn from our animal friends’ wisdom, their innocence, their loyalty and particularly their seeming ability to not judge human beings unkindly.

Let us be thankful for the pleasures, playfulness and sometimes the surprising humor our pets display.

Let us be thankful for their companionship and friendship especially in those lonely hours we experience.

Let us be grateful for our companions’ natural ability to teach us to be aware of the present moment and be appreciative of the pure beauty of every animal – their form, color, texture, and motion.

Above all let us offer a blessing of love to each other and all of creation as we share this, and every day together.