Anglican churches all over America had pet blessings today (Oct. 4) commemorating the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. At Emmanuel Church, Southern Pines, we read from Genesis, the Psalms, and the Gospel of Matthew (Consider the lilies of the field). We sang: “All Things Bright and Beautiful.” Father John, caught unaware, stepped into horse manure but the blessings went on. Bishop Michael Curry who had been here all day to preach and confirm and to meet with the vestry graciously stayed an extra hour to bless our beloved animals ~ everything from dogs to iguanas. He knows James’ story and has his picture on his computer. He said something about finally meeting James, the dog that God sent me when I was in deep despair.

The dichotomy for me comes in knowing the condition of dogs and cats in Dodoma where Jessie and I just spent 7 weeks. The dogs and cats are starving and ravaged with mange and parasites and open sores. Jessie witnessed some in villages driving dogs off with sticks and clubs and she told them that was wrong ~ that dogs are part of God’s creation. We fed those who routinely came to our door ~ bread soaked in milk. Did we help or do harm? Part of me understands that feeding dogs and cats takes food from the children, but the other part of me says everything is topsy-turvy in this world. So many have asked how we are doing as far as re-entry into our culture and all I can say is that it is hard. We are caught in a tension that seems unfixable. Talking to my doctor last week (he also goes to Africa) I asked him what was the lure, what made us want to go back and back and back again. He said: “Maybe it gets us away from this crazy world in which we live.”

Albert Schweitzer wrote this prayer:
“Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends the animals, especially for animals who are suffering; for any that are hunted or lost or deserted or frightened or hungry; for all that must be put to death. We entreat for them all thy mercy and pity and for those who deal with them we ask a heart of compassion, gentle hands and kindly words. Make us ourselves to be true friends to animals and so to share the blessing of the merciful.” Amen

I’m going to bed with this prayer on my heart. Tally+

I’ve been reading about St. Francis tonight, how he renounced all material values, and devoted himself to serve the poor. Francis chose the name of the Order of Friars Minor to emphasize his desire to be numbered among the least of God’s servants.