Scripture ~ Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” Genesis 1:26
Spiritual Focus ~ “We can follow the essence of our own conscience and apply The Golden Rule to all creatures great and small in our human interactions with them.” The Non-human Golden Rule, Craig Cline, All Creatures.org
Breath Prayer ~ Every Living Thing
Devotions ~ Stories about relationships between us and our animals have been very prominent in the news lately. Countless people adopted animals for companionship during the pandemic. Therapy or Emotional Support Animals can detect when you need a little love, soothing, or even insulin! There have been stories of displaced animals due to natural disasters as well as trained animals who can sniff out danger or even COVID. One story stood out among the rest about a giant African pouched rat named Magawa who spent years sniffing out landmines in the Cambodian countryside. He is big enough to be attached to a leash, light enough not to trigger any explosives, can cover a lot of ground quickly, and works for peanuts and bananas. Magawa will retire this year after being awarded a gold medal for the many lives he has saved.
Magawa’s story stands out because we may not think of a rat as something worthy of humane treatment. Yet in our scripture, God gives us the responsibility for every living animal, fish, bird, and creeping thing. Thus we should presume that means every living thing has value and purpose. It is easy to assign value and purpose to some animals over others, and thus not afford them the humane treatment they require or deserve.
Many animal lovers will tell you they love their animals because they receive unconditional love from them, unconditional love that is often difficult to give and receive as humans. This unconditional love from our animals can reflect the unconditional love of God. The foundational ethics of yoga philosophy, the yamas and niyamas, guide right behavior. In the yamas you find the most important practice of ahimsa, or do no harm to ourselves, to one another, nor to all beings everywhere. This ethic is like the Golden Rule and is central to many religions, professions, and philosophies. The practice of being humane gives us pause to consider that every living thing has value and worth no matter how big or small or…creepy!