Religious Education News: Sun Apr 21

There have been many moving services conducted here at CUUC, but Sunday, April 14, was particularly noteworthy as we honored our companion friends in life with an Animal Blessing. What a delight to see several congregants with their dogs and cat, the animals happily mixing with everyone and announcing their presence with an occasional bark. Didn’t hear any feline opinions! The music performed by Adam Kent and guest cellist Caleb van der Swaagh was exquisite and lent such a serene and uplifting presence to the service.

I was privileged to speak on my reflections of this day, since a very large part of my life has been centered around animals. Their care has been my avocation as well as vocation, particularly when I was directing animal shelters. I have experienced moments and events that simply make one’s heart soar with joy, as well as actions that depict the baser side of humanity and break one’s heart into a million pieces. It is said that you pay a high price for love, especially with animals, but it has proven to be so, so worth it. I spoke about my cat, Brooke, who visited with the children during their service of the previous week. As a victim of unspeakable abuse at 2 years of age she has reached a milestone at 14, due in part to medical care but more importantly as a product of her resiliency and strength of spirit, which transcended any injustice leveled at her.

I came to the conclusion that the very attitudes intrinsic to animals align perfectly with our values as UUs and with values of all faiths. They demonstrate the example to us to accept everyone without exception, show genuine unconditional love, have patience and tolerance, be able to forgive, and take on the role of protecting the weak and innocent. When I look at animals both domestic and in the world at large, I often find the need to say a prayer for them. The operative word I assume for me is for, not to them or to a person. A prayer for me is an expression of love; my prayer tells the earth’s creatures that I will protect them and care for them. As I asked everyone in the congregation, hold your pets close to you and pray that you will love and protect them always. If your pet has passed, then pray that your love will abide always and that they will live in your heart and memory. For all those creatures that are lost, broken, and neglected, pray that they will find their way safely to refuge or a loving home. In the service there was an opportunity for the members of the congregation to express what they thought their pets would say to them if they could speak. The microphone was passed and many of the remarks were quite humorous, such as “Why do pills have to be shoved down my throat?” “I’m up, when do I eat?” etc. We also had congregants iterate what animals in the wild, sanctuaries, and farms would say, and many of the comments were poignant, such as “Why do you torture me?” “I lived here first for a long time,” “I have feelings, I experience pain,” etc.

The simplicity and deep spirituality of this service came through with a resounding message that could not be ignored: if we make a covenant with all living creatures to rescue them, protect them, and be their voice, I believe we not only uplift our humanity, but simply become better people. To quote St. Francis of Assisi, “Not to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop there is not enough. We have a higher mission – to be of service to them whenever they require it.”

Michele Rinaldi
RE Coordinator

Looking ahead...

RE This Sunday, April 21
All grades start in the sanctuary for our Easter worship service.

2019 Variety Show Fundraiser, Sat May 4, 5:00pm
Help us get ready for the fun! Buy RAFFLE TICKETS on Sunday; PERFORMERS (adults AND kids) sign up in the RE lobby; BAKE SALE sign-ups: Contact Benetta Barnett (benettabarnett@hotmail.com); RAFFLE PRIZE DONATIONS: Contact Kate Breault (ksnobro@gmail.com).

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