The Animals Bless Us First

We blessed the animals today —
Stuart MacGyver, snoring as loudly
as a seasoned parishioner
through the sermon,
but willing to be petted by anyone,
guinea pigs Coffee and Caramel,
many in-cellphone-absentia cats,
chickens, fish, birds,
and more dogs,
ones who don’t play well with others
even in ecclesiastical setting,

and … did someone lift up in prayer
the earthworms
who aerate his fields?

But really animals bless us first —
those beautiful wild and free
give us inspiration,

those who live with us as companions
lower blood pressure,
reduce depression,
prevent allergies in children
boost the immune system, improve sleep,
sooth anxiety in military veterans,
and outbursts in Alzheimer’s patients,

those remembered and mourned,
shape forever
how we understand love.

The animals bless us first —
the blue whale teaches us to be happy
with our own shape
whether of fashionable size or not,
the starfish reminds us
it’s possible to re-grow
even from terrible losses,
the oyster makes pearls
from irritations and wounds,
and the ostrich demonstrates
that we can’t really hide
by burying our heads in the sand.

We are even blessed
by those we will never see again —

the Dutch alcon blue butterfly,
golden toad, javan tiger,
Hawai’ian Po’ouli, a songbird,
the vaquito porpoise and tecopa pupfish,
both the west African black rhino
and the northern white rhino,
their thundering hooves silenced,

and even the Spix blue macaw,
you know, the one cartooned in “Rio,”

… soon the giraffe.

It’s time to learn from the ostrich.

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