Blessing of the Animals

Blessing God’s Creatures

On Saturday, our church served as one of the hosts for Blessing of the Animals held this year at St. David’s Episcopal Church.  People from around the neighborhood came and brought their pets to be blessed.

I’ve been involved in many of these services over the years.  And my experience has been that the more rural the setting, the more exotic the animals.  In Giles County, we had not only dogs and cats and goldfish, but also horses, cows, pigs, donkeys, rabbits, ducks and even snakes.  Those were interesting services.

Yesterday’s was considerably more tame.  Only dogs were in attendance.

There were beautiful stories of love and companionship shared among those in attendance.  Several of us clergy who serve neighborhood churches laid hands on and blessed these animals.

After the blessing, we also shared a brief service of remembrance for any pets that may have died during the previous year—sort of an All Saint’s moment.  Photographs and iPhone screen shots and even a beautiful painting of missing animals were displayed as we said a prayer of blessing for the dead. It was a powerful moment.

I am fond of this service of worship.  I like what it stands for and how it recognizes the special bond between God’s creatures and us and our obligation to care for them well.

Maybe Blessing Begets Blessing

But I am also reminded of a conversation I had with a colleague last week.  I was explaining what we were going to do in our service and I asked if she was going to also be a part of a Blessing of the Animals service.  Her response was unexpected: “I can’t be a part of a service blessing animals as long as there are so many people in our world who live ‘unblessed’ lives—people who are thought of as ‘less than’ by others.”  She then went on and named a laundry list of people she believed fit into that category of the “unblessed.”

I have to admit that her comment gave me pause.  She is right, of course. There are too many among us that are continuously shoved toward the margins.  We fear them. We hate them—and we don’t even know why.

I disagreed, though, with her premise.  I tend to think the more we can learn to bless, the more we WILL bless.  In other words, maybe blessing begets blessing. That’s my hope.