Monday, August 18, 2008

Voice of the Voiceless

I am the voice of the voiceless:
Through me, the dumb shall speak;
Till the deaf world’s ear be made to hear
The cry of the wordless weak.

From street, from cage, and from kennel,
From jungle, and stall, the wail
Of my tortured kin proclaims the sin
Of the mighty against the frail.

For love is the true religion,
And love is the law sublime;
And all is wrought, where love is not
Will die at the touch of time.

Oh shame on the mothers of mortals
Who have not stopped to teach
Of the sorrow that lies in dear, dumb eyes,
The sorrow that has no speech.

The same Power formed the sparrow
That fashioned man-the King;
The God of the whole gave a living soul
To furred and to feathered thing.

And I am my brother’s keeper,
And I will fight his fight;
And speak the word for beast and bird
Till the world shall set things right.

- Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I live in the midst of an area that some might dub "Pennsylvania Dutch Country." And within a short drive from my house are "processing" plants in which pigs, cows, chickens, and turkeys are transformed from innocent, sentient beings into neatly-wrapped packages of meat.

More often than I would like, I am faced with the eyes of animals on their way to slaughter. And the feeling of helplessness wrenching at my heart and soul is nothing compared to theirs. I am free to drive on. They, on the other hand, have no escape from their fate. And, sadly, if I were to try to free them, I could potentially be arrested.

Saint Basil said, "O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship with all living things, our little brothers to whom Thou hast given this earth as their home in common with us. May we realize that they live not for us alone, but for themselves and for Thee, and that they love the sweetness of life even as we, and serve Thee better in their place than we in ours." They love the sweetness of life, he said... Yet we rip this away from them. We imprison them in unnatural, cruel conditions and then kill them. Is this the kind of fellowship God intended when he created the animals to be Adam's first friends?

They cannot speak in our words, but look into the eyes of one of these beautiful creatures in an animal-transport truck, on their way to slaughter, and you will see their sorrow. God has given us free will, so we have a choice to make. God allows the eating of meat (animals), but He does not demand it. Have we really become so hardened and desensitized that we can turn a blind eye to their suffering? We can choose to be a part of their suffering and death, or we can choose to say "yes" to their lives, and to pray for an end to this madness.

Friday, August 1, 2008

A Blade of Grass

"I want creation to penetrate you with so much admiration that wherever you go, the least plant may bring you the clear remembrance of the Creator. A single plant, a blade of grass or one speck of dust is sufficient to occupy all your intelligence in beholding the art with which it has been made."
- St. Basil the Great

I haven't posted much recently, because I have been focusing on preparing for our parish's vacation church school. Next week I am blessed to have an opportunity to be one of its teachers. Our focus is going to be "The Earth is the Lord's: Caring for God's Creation." My heart's deepest prayer and longing is that the children in my class will come away from the week seeing the deep beauty and significance of a blade of grass... of any of the seemingly small parts of God's creation.

Nothing is without significance. Everything God created has it's own unique and mysterious place in His creation. How easy it can be to forget this in a world where material posessions are prized more than the precious spiritual gems we find on our way toward communion with God. What a wonderful thing it is to stop the whirlwind of life and take time to simply "be" in the natural world... to contemplate this vast, brilliant creation which God has gifted to us to care for.