NEWBERRY — Today we see tractors and dairy barns around us. A few people do the farming for everyone. But 40 or 50 years ago, it was different. Every family had a milk cow and chickens and turkeys—and they had stock dogs and a barnyard cat—sometimes even sheep. These animals were important to the family well-being. They were the foundation of a family’s economy.
Animals were partners with people back then and every family knew of the mutual dependency that existed between themselves and the animals that supplied their tables.
I wonder what place a “Blessing of Animals” had in those days. People gathered to bless the harvest, new houses as they moved in; they said something about the importance of stewardship on one hand, and the importance of faithful, loving relationships on the other. I believe a blessing of animals would have been a special and sacred occasion also. They depended so greatly upon animals.
Times have changed. In the main most of us have animals today as pets. Their place and functions are different for us. They are not partners with us in survival in the same way they used to be. They don’t provide us with the necessary goods to live.
But all of society has changed. The numbers of deep relationships aren’t as many now as they used to be and many are shallow and short-lived. People move more often. They live alone. And there is loneliness even when people live with others.
We are tense and anxious- overjoyed, moody and sad. So often our pets become God’s gift to us in these certain moments, and during these emotional times, God’s gift when our lives must be lived under conditions we cannot immediately change.
A blessing of animals today might be slightly different from the reasons given years ago, but it is true that our animals still take care of us. They provide types of care that are especially important. And of course, we have a responsibility to them. We are to care for them.
We care, the animals care, and we come to sense God’s care. As our animals are blessed, we begin a process that will help some of us receive and feel a particular blessing from the hand of God.
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church announces they will consecrate the service of blessing animals to honor St. Francis of Assisi on Sunday at 3:30 p.m., the Parish House lawn, 1605 Main St., Newberry.
The public is invited to share this very special celebration.