I have always loved animals and believe that they are God’s gift to us… for many reasons. I find many of them especially helpful for spiritual and mental health reasons.
Kinship With All Life by J. Allen Boone is a delightful read about the relationships between people and (not just animals but) all life (as the title attests to!). It’s a short read that brought me a lot of joyful, head-shaking agreement. My favorite chapter was about Freddie the Fly. I won’t tell you about it, except to say you’ll never kill a fly without first thinking about Freddie.
For me, it started young. I have always talked to animals and believed they could understand me. I carried this belief into my teens, when I would cry my angst and sorrows into our Great Dane’s fur. Winnie (yeah, I know, silly name for a Great Dane but there’s a long story behind it!) was a gentle giant; tender and loving. She was also a great listener and never judged me.
But it’s not just our domesticated pets who have souls. I have a story:
In the 1990’s, I lived in the High Desert of California. As the decade wound down, I was headed into my forties. I was also deeply unhappy. I had been to counselors, social workers and counselors through the years… always searching but never finding what I was looking for.
What was I looking for? Uh. Well. *sigh* I know I run the risk of losing some of you if I say I was trying to know, understand and/or “find myself” – insert barf emoticon here. But there you have it.
Well, there was also the fact that I had undiagnosed depression and anxiety. There’s always that. Anyway…
I saw a therapist named Debra. It’s been so long ago… but what I remember is that she was Mother Earth personified… a goddess with round, soft features and golden-brown hair cascading around her face. Her office smelled of coconut and she had this cool fountain mounted to the wall. It dripped into a copper vessel on the floor. It was a heavenly place.
To get to her office, I drove down a road with alfalfa fields and ranches on either side. As I neared the street to her office, there was an ostrich farm. I’d look at them and think about The Swiss Family Robinson movie I’d seen as a kid. One day, I stopped the car and walked up to the fence. A few came up to me. They’re so goofy and wonderful… and much bigger than I realized. It became a thing I did… stopping on my way home from Debra’s to commune with the ostriches.
Despite the divorce that came in late 1999, it was a very healing time for me. The ostriches were a part of that.
And then… there is a property on my way to work… it was used for harness-racing and to train horses. On sunny days, three horses hung out in the pasture out front. I’d drive past them on the highway and make a mental note to take the service road and stop to meet them. The timing was never quite right. I’d remember to take the road where they were… and they weren’t outside. Or, I’d forget and see them from the highway. Again.
Finally, one day a few years ago, the planets aligned and I stopped. I walked up to the fence and they came up to me. I touched their velvety soft noses and we all had a chat. I took out my camera and snapped a few shots. I sent the originals to my daughter and lost the digital copies, or I’d share them with you here. Bummer, because the property was sold. No more horses.
Animals have always held a very special place in my life and heart. For me, they are as important as my family members… heck, they ARE my family members. You give a cat your last name and yeah, it’s understood. Right? Bette and Hannah Hutton are the Queens of this castle.
There is so much to love about this little book. I find myself wanting to share more stories with you… about how all life… all life… is so precious and dear. This book just makes me smile. I hope you’ll read it and that it will make you smile, too.