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Lightening the Journey of a Lifetime

September 25th, 2022 10:30 a.m.

By Rev. Cal Kemper

(Continuing Rev. Nicole’s series on Animals, Emotions and Spirituality)

-“Elephants Mourn Loss of Elephant Whisperer, Lawrence Anthony”-

Elephant grief and mourning included the loss of their human friend and rescuer. How did they know he was deceased?

Pastor Nicole mentioned the mother whale and her lifeless baby last week. But, here also is a wonderful acknowledgment of broken-hearted elephants mourning the loss of a human friend, Lawrence Anthony. They felt something like Love and Connection to him.

The whole herd arrived at the main house. The staff had not seen them there for a very long time. Here is extraordinary proof of animal sensitivity and awareness that only a few humans can perceive. And Lawrence was one of them! Lawrence's legacy will be with us forever, and with the elephants, too.

Our non-human companions truly grieve the loss of their human friends. Many show such deep and enduring loyalty and devotion that they continue to follow the same routines in which they took part with their human friend for years after the human died or they choose to live out their lives where their human is buried.

I had a beautiful white cat, Mr. Angel, that died of old age. We also had a rescue cat, named Amaretto, who related only to Rahven. When Mr. Angel died, we returned from the vet and sat on the couch together, reminiscing. Amaretto hopped up to lie by Rahven, as usual.

Then surprisingly, she sensed “my emptiness” and for the first time, reached out and put her paw on my hand. She left it there, until I responded. That had never happened before. She “felt something” and chose to reach out to comfort me. Wow!

Grieving and mourning clearly show that nonhuman animals are socially aware of what is happening in their worlds and that they feel deep emotions when family and friends die. Clearly, we're not the only animals who possess the cognitive and emotional capacities for suffering the loss of others.

In our 1st Timothy reading we hear “for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.”

So, the idea of shedding what is not needed and traveling light is a major theme, here. Many animals (even insects) shed the very skin they have grown out of and, like us, end up shedding their whole bodies as well, eventually.

In keeping the letting-go metaphor in focus, we are called to make good choices in our efforts to live lightly, shed what’s not essential, open to let God “drive the vehicle” that is “us,“ home.

I am thinking about the necessity of having a simple life and growing in faith by shedding our past selves as we grow into our next stage of maturation.

As Nelson Mandela said: “To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means the ultimate outcome is not in my hands.” To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for now and the future.

To let go is to fear less and love more.

We have this “journey of a lifetime” to make lighter and more passionate. Yes, we want to feel like we’ve made a difference and have answered the call to serve God as we travel that path. But, there is a Rainbow Bridge waiting for us as well. . . .

Finally, we shed our human lives, to grow into beauty and freedom; To rejoice in the Universal Presence, Light, Peace, Love and Power that is our true Home. May it be truly so. Amen

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