So often, when we think of the creatures of the earth, we consider ourselves apart from all the rest. There are humans, and then there are all the rest of the non-human animals in The Garden (whom we call simply “animals”, as though we ourselves are somehow separate from them). It is true that we are unique among sentient life in that we have the ability to control the fate of all other animal species (and the awareness of this), but it is also true that we are dependent on them for our own survival – not just physical, but emotional and spiritual survival as well. Interdependence. What can we learn from our personal relationships with non-human animals?
If we examine our relationships with the animals in our lives, we can see direct parallels to our relationship dynamics with the other human beings in our lives.
The animals which we invite into our homes, care for, share our lives with, embrace and truly cultivate a loving relationship with, we call “pets”. The way we love our pets tells us a great deal regarding the way we love our families. It offers deep insight into the way we love.
The animals we coexist with peacefully in the wild, those which may touch our lives lightly and then individually depart – the deer in our backyard, the vole in our garden, the bear by our campsite… Do we welcome their presence, or approach them apprehensively with caution? There is parallel here to people we meet briefly or pass on the street, or others that live among us in our neighborhoods and communities. How does our attitude here reflect the way we feel about “strangers”?
Then there are animals that we actively avoid (sharks, snakes, crocodiles…), connected to us as well by fear energy, or lack of understanding. There are people in our communities – and in our world community – with whom we have a parallel relationship; those whose opinions or behavior are incomprehensible, or perhaps even abhorrent to us. How do we make peace with the fear and anger they inspire in us? Are we able to retain compassion in the face of such fear?
Animals. People. All of us must coexist on this planet, in spite of (and in harmony with) our various needs and differences. How can examining our interconnection carry us forward to cultivate peace in The Garden?