Wednesday, June 17, 2009

st. francis is my homeboy.

St. Francis offers companionship to my beloved Daisy.
"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who deal likewise with their fellow men."
--St. Francis of Assisi
I love animals. This is no secret. When I see a dog walking down the street, I squeal and do a little dance akin to what I call the I'm-a-puppy-and-I-have-to-piddle dance: wiggling,wiggling, and a little more wiggling. I can hardly contain myself. I also make sound effects. Sometimes I make like I'm the dog and I say things. "Oh, I'm so cute! I'm so cute! Look at me go!" Or the ever popular, "Yeah, yeah, yeah! Let's go for a walk! Lookatme! Lookatme!" I also make the sound effect you hear in cartoons--the one that sounds like a tink-tink-tink on a xylaphone. It's that sound that often denotes a small animal walking quickly. I replace it with my very own, "Do-do-do-do-do" rather quickly.

But my love for animals isn't limited to canines. I also love the little sparrows you see hopping around outside while you're enjoying your lunch. Yesterday, I sat on one of the benches outside of College Hall during my lunch hour. I was just enjoying my salad when all of a sudden this ADORABLE little sparrow landed on the bench. Literally. Like, right next to me. And he just stared up at me with those adorable brown eyes and that little round head, and I simply melted. I've noticed that the animals on campus--squirrels, robins, sparrows, chipmunks--are quite brave, allowing themselves to be fed out of someone's hand, as well as joining people on nearby benches, as was the case yesterday. There's even a man on campus who feeds the squirrels those peanut butter and orange crackers. Right.Out.Of.His.Hands. It's extraordinary to watch.

Wanting to be a part of this animal-human bond, I slowly grabbed a little crouton crumb from my salad and proceeded to extend my hand slowly towards my little friend. Oh, was he excited!! He hopped up and fluttered for a second, landed on the bench, fluttered up again, hopped down on the ground, and then fluttered near me one more time. He wasn't quite brave enough to eat right from my hand, but I could tell he wanted that little treat oh-so-badly! So I just dropped it on the ground next to me, and my little friend snatched it up immediately and flew off to a bunch of nearby bushes. It was the last I saw of him that day, but our few moments together were so sweet.

Tomorrow I officially begin my stint as a volunteer at Animal Friends. I've already completed the required two parts of their orientation, and tomorrow I get to actually touch the dogs. I can't wait. I'll sit in their kennels with them (the kennels are huge), brush them, praise them with positive reinforcement, feed them treats, and give them water. I need to do 5 hours of this kind of activity before I can walk them. I feel honored to begin my work there. To come in contact with animals makes me realize what an amazing thing this life is that we have. Other living, breathing beings, who need love and affection just like we do. Their eyes...oh, their eyes. They speak volumes when their little mouths can't. And I will do my work in memory of my sweet Daisy. She was, without a doubt, one of the greatest loves of my life. And did she ever teach me about love!

It is my mission to be like St. Francis. To love all creatures, great and small. To treat them with a gentle hand and tongue, to praise them, to honor their existence. They are such beloved companions on this life journey.

with love from Pittsburgh,