For the love of animals: Pet community builders

2014-08-24 10.50.25

Family dog Wednesday relaxing on my lap after being blessed


I enjoy a shitshow. I do not mean heartache or  tragedy. I enjoy a little  drama, chaos, recklessness, and wild laughter . I  prefer my religious experiences to be on the ridiculous side of spirituality. Lila is one of my favorite words because in Hinduism it means Divine creative play.  What a perfect way to describe essence of spirituality and creation.  Being that I love and frankly need spiritual chaos in my life, I was overjoyed to experience for the first time, an animal blessing service at my new Unitarian Universalist church home. Since becoming a member, I have missed many services due to hectic work schedules, moving and wedding planning. However, I was not about to miss the animal blessing for many reasons. First and foremost, I wanted to bring our unpredictable dog to an unpredictable event because fun and chaos was sure to be involved.

The service did not fail to entertain. In fact, it was one of the best and most meaningful service experiences I have had there. One of the drawbacks, I have felt since becoming an Unitarian Universalist (but don’t worry, I am also still Wiccan) was lack of a central divine idea or being. How do you create community without that rallying point? I was also curious to see how they would bless pets. Bless by, for or with who or what? How can they make a blessing service or any service meaningful without that shared understanding of the Divine. It turned out to be a very meaningful and spiritual gathering. For me, in part, it was because most of my whole family was there. There was my Fiance  (also a member) and me with a picture of our cat. But my mother (who lives with us) also came to bring her (now our) dog. She came even though she has sworn  as a serious Christian to never become a Unitarian Universalist.

Everyone came to the service with open, loving hearts because they loved their pets and frankly were very curious about everyone else’s animals. There were also plenty of children playing in the background during the service. The event was alive! Outdoors, loud, windy, and energetic instead of a traditional stuffy quiet church. There were songs, stories, more songs, prayers and blessings. Mostly, there was a lot of bonding and community building in the service and at the potluck following. We bonded over stories about our pets and our lives. There was playful moments and sober moments as we honored departed pets. It was the first time, I really felt that this was a strong community with or without a God or a Goddess leading the way. It goes to show that the simple love of family (two, three, four, or six-legged) is the easiest gateway to creating a vibrant spiritual community.