This past evening I had the opportunity to sit in on a very moving event here at Best Friends Animal Society. On the last Thursday of each month at Angels Rest the Society takes time to bless, and to recognize, the animals in their care that have passed on, or crossed the "Rainbow Bridge" during that month. This Thursday was extra special. On the last Thursday of each October the blessing includes all the animals that have crossed during the year.
As the assembled group of animal care workers, volunteers, and Best Friends founders read out the name of each animal that had crossed, I noticed three crows circling above. Two of them landed on a rock high above Angels Rest on the canyon rim, while the third flew on, on it's own. The breeze stirred and the wind chimes played their music. It was as if the spirits of all the animals resting here were also reading out the names.
One of the speakers, a Lakota Elder, sent a blessing to the seen, and the unseen; known and unknown. He also spoke of the connection of all beings, not only human and animal, but Earth Nation and Star Nations, the creepers, crawlers and swimmers.
At the end of the reading of the names, people were invited to speak about any of the animals that they may have known or interacted with.
There were stories about cats, dogs, pigs, birds and horses. There were stories of animals that had been adopted into loving, caring homes, even if it was only for a short time before they too, crossed.
As I walked around Angels Rest after the ceremony I was looking at all the names on the markers and I began to think of all the dogs that I have been so lucky to have known in my work and personal life that have crossed;
Happy, Molly, Gunner, Cajun, Freddie, Sasha, Scruffy, Jackson, Kody, Deker, Jasper, Grizzly, Panda, Gumbo, Buzzer, Puddles, Buddy and Buddy, Gorilla, and of course, Zulu. May they all, the known and the unknown, have peace.
"One last word of farewell, dear master and mistress. Whenever you visit my grave, say to yourselves with regret but also happiness in your hearts at the remembrance of my long happy life with you: "Here lies one who loves us and whom we loved." No matter how deep my sleep I shall hear you, and not all the power of death can keep my spirit from wagging a grateful tail."
For more information about Angels Rest, visit http://bestfriends.org/The-Sanctuary/Explore-the-Sanctuary/Angels-Rest/