Friends…, welcome! Welcome to every one of you today, no matter how young or old you are, no matter how many legs you have, or don’t have! We are here to celebrate our Rally Day today and we are also here to be a blessing for others by blessing our animal friends together!
How many of you brought animals with you today? Wow! Thank you. I can tell how much we love our animals. To live with them and care for them is a blessing and a privilege. My daughter, Elizabeth always wants to have a dog. I wish we had a dog, but I am afraid to adopt one, because I know it’s a blessing and a privilege, but I also know that it is like raising another child. That’s huge responsibility!
In addition, you have to spend SO MUCH money on them! Americans spent more than $60 billion on their animals last year! According to a recent survey, we spend an average of $126 every month on our furry friends, $114 on our feathered friends, while fish owners spend only $63 a month. Yes, we love animals. We love our pets. Those of you who have gathered here in the love of your animal companions, thank you for sheltering and caring for these friends.
As we gather with our animal friends today, I have a kind of sense/feeling of obligation to answer a question, a question many of you have asked at some point in your lives. Maybe you asked it when you were very young. Or, one of your children did: “Do animals go to heaven?” What do you think? I asked the same question to Anna Marie last week. She seemed to be very shy to say, “Hmm… I don’t know.” What do you think?
The short answer is, “Yes!” The word “animal” comes from a Latin word, anima, which means (first) “breath.” So, an animal is something that has breath…, something that breathes. Anima also means “soul.” Therefore, by its name, an animal is something that has soul! And we all know that things with souls do indeed go to heaven! Thus, of course! Animals do go to heaven!
But, today, as we celebrate the blessing of animals, we remember something else. Heaven is not just a place where people go when they die. Heaven is not some place that we simply wait for. Heaven is the place where soul is. I can’t imagine a heaven without animals, because animals help to give us soul. It is very interesting that, in Jungian psychology, anima is a very important concept. We don’t have enough time to talk about it right now, but the point I want to make is this: it can be said that without anima, we cannot fully understand about us, as human-beings. Come to think of it, animals help us understand who we are as human-beings. That is why we bless animals here this morning. We are celebrating heaven by blessing our animal friends. The presence of these animals this morning is a foretaste of the joy and soul of the kingdom of heaven!
Now, let us join our hearts in a prayer for these very special and beloved animal companions.