Occasionally, a small point of light makes its way into our lives through all creatures great and small. Tonight, my faith community filled with exactly that…from Greyhounds to hedgehogs and all sizes in between.
The hedgehog is our family pet. My daughter and I decided to bring a hedgehog into the family last year, after great deliberation about what was the best animal companion to join in our family fold. Allergies are a serious issue in our household. We also didn’t need anything else requiring high maintenance. We are all fairly nocturnal. And, heaven knows, we live on the fine edge of eccentricity in other ways. There is something about this sweet, affectionate creature that can also throw up its spines and send large creatures off their attack in a single act of huffiness that appeals to me. And so, Clover was lovingly sought out after much research into care and breeding. And, he has become a bona fide family companion, adding one more layer of zaniness into our family structure.
Tonight, we woke up sweet clover a couple hours early and drove him off to Bluegrass mass and the Blessing of the Animals. My daughter sat like a proud caregiver, showing off sweet Clover to the children, grown ups, and the occasional sniffing dog that wanted to catch a glimpse. I have to admit, I was still caught up in the beautiful intensity of my own weekend, having been away on a very contemplative and introspective retreat until a few hours previously. This scene was an immersion back into the loud, wild, and wonderful world of community which surrounds me. My spirit was singing for joy as I embraced these lovely contrasts.
Clover was on good behavior. Small children were able to pet and dote on him without prickles, and he sniffed around to take in the new surroundings. In a memorable moment of blessing, a little boxwood branch sprinkled little drops of holy water on his nose as he reached up as if to claim his blessing. So did our community dogs and cats and companions small and large. Barks and singing and fantastic bluegrass music from our incredibly talented musicians filled our space. And, we all broke bread together both in holy communion and later, in the parish hall, as we embraced our wild and diverse community. Heaven on Earth.
I have so much else I could say tonight, but this scene that would have warmed even the heart of St. Francis himself conveys an image of the light shining on my path tonight. All are welcome and all are blessed…those with quills and barks and purrs and tails. All are welcome and all are blessed, with our own spines of protection, shouts of joy, stillness of soul-searching, and embrace of welcome.