Blessing of Pets Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016

This morning’s homily is short in deference to some of our pets being with us.
A few weeks ago I mentioned that it is normal during a homily to hear something that gets us thinking, drift off in thought following that idea, and then return to the homily, perhaps several times during a good homily. Well, I was aware that it really happened to me last week. In her homily, Julia mentioned “the sanctity of the ordinary.” As soon as she said that, my mind just sort of rushed through a whole battery of thoughts and images. “The sanctity of the ordinary.”
Not to put words in Julia’s mouth, I can only tell you where my mind went. So often we think of “Holy Things” as being “out there”, or “up there”, or somewhere. We go to church around the corner, or down the street, to experience the Holy. We pray to God, up there, to petition or praise the Holy. We come to the altar, “up here”, to receive the Holy. And that’s all fine. It fits a major element of our understanding of “the Holy” as being distant and removed – in its proper place.
But last week Julia mentioned that the holy is “right under our noses”, to quote her. And that’s when my mind took off on a trip of its own. Where is that “Holy Ordinary” right under our noses? How do we find it? How do we recognize it?
Well, I think we find the “holy ordinary” in each other, and for some of us, in our pets. The Holy is right under our noses. It’s so easy for us to take each other, and sometimes the animals around us, for granted.
Tuesday is St. Francis’ Day, when we celebrate the life and legends of St. Francis. If you really study Francis, he was kind of a kook. Most saints were, in some way. Francis, in his very gentle, quiet way, found the sacred in the people and animals that surrounded his life. So, he has become sort of the patron saint to those of us who are pet and animal lovers.
Most of us know that we receive far more love and attention from our pets, than even the best of us can give to our pets, no matter how hard we try. And most of us find a sense of innocence in our pets. That’s what makes the death of a pet so hard. It is the death of innocence in our lives – something we all crave. To come home from a stressful day or event and have a dog or cat welcome you home, or get in your lap, or ask for some petting, or bring you a toy, is instant therapy. Doctors will tell you that our blood pressure drops about 10 points when we’re in the company of a pet. They are medicine for us. And we, likewise for them. There is a symbiotic relationship between pets and humans that has formed over thousands of years of evolution.

So, today we honor our ordinary, holy friends, right under our noses. I give thanks to God daily for the joy and comfort my pets give to me. And I just hope and pray that I meet their needs, as well as they meet mine. Thank you God for the beasties of the fields,  and the birdies of the air, and the fishes of the sea. May we be good stewards of the holy ordinary gifts you have given us, right under our noses.

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Posted October 4, 2016 by Church of the Epiphany in Epiphany Moments

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