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Animal Encounters

Everything visible, without exception, is the outpouring of God.

~ Fr. Richard Rohr, Universal Christ


I believe any encounter with the natural world is revelatory. Yet, I often let days pass without inviting nature to speak with me. Think of your own life, what animals have you encountered recently? What were you drawn to? Did anything especially resonate with you, or feel personal? Elements of nature carry wisdom in their presence, their patterns, and their behavior.


Sometimes we are graced with an animal encounter that holds tremendous power and personal meaning. My friend Kathy had such an encounter. She wrote, “ It was a rare, clear, warm day on the Frederick sound in Alaska, summer of 1995. My daughter, who is not religious, [was moved] to sing Amazing Grace. As she did, this beautiful humpback whale slowly surfaced next to the boat, we could have touched her. She was there but for a moment, then gone. It left us both speechless. I felt like we had an encounter with God. It was then that I knew that God was in all creation, and that we are truly

connected to everything.” ~ Kathy Mansfield


Most animal encounters are much less dramatic. But still, they offer wisdom. For instance, my recent meeting with a ladybug. I found her meandering across the car window on my way home from Nebraska. One passenger to another, I gave her my full attention. She offered this perspective:

  • A “go directly there, waste no time” default mode diminishes your life journey. Try instead to take the zig-zag route of a ladybug. Be patient in your travels.

  • When you seek to blend in to your setting, to become like others, you dampen the sizzle that is uniquely yours. Do not be afraid to stand out. Like a ladybug, display your vivid color and your bold spots. You were created to show up in the world.

  • See through child’s eyes. Be curious and let yourself be entertained by even the smallest bit of beauty. It all belongs to a marvelously sacred landscape.

I thanked her with a complimentary lift to some cool grass under a large tree, then meandered to the picnic table to sit for a moment. She was right, the summer breeze and the rustling leaves were an improvement from the interstate.


In the coming weeks I will share a few more personal animal encounters. Some quirky, some startling and some tender. I hope you will share yours, as a reminder to all of us that animals with lead roles, as well as those who play bit parts, are all sacred.


As my friend and spiritual mentor Sue Lion says, “Listen. Be open to the songs of earthly creatures. And let their energy flow through you to help create harmony and insights in your life.”

~ Spirit Animals Oracle Deck; www.suelion.com


Photo by Kathy Mansfield, Charlotte, NC


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