Robin Wall Kimmerer – scientist and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation – reminds us in her book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants, that the pronouns we use for all earthly beings matter. Kimmerer reflects on how Western culture has made humankind the “subject” and the rest of creation the “object” with pronouns such as “it.” This grammatical action in turn justifies and empowers human exploitation and dominance of non-human creatures and earth. As an alternative, Kimmerer invites everyone to learn from the wisdom of the Anishinaabe language, which offers us “ki” and “kin” as pronouns. How does our relationship to all animals in our lives change if we consciously make the change from “it” to “kin,” and if they become not “our animals” but relatives?
These are the questions I invite you to join me in dwelling with as we prepare to celebrate the Blessing of the Animals this Sunday. While much of US culture has taught us to subjugate animals through our language and practices, this Sunday reminds us that there is no shortage of human teachers who have and continue to offer alternatives, such as St. Francis who also rejoiced and interacted with all earthly beings as kin. And of course, non-human animals are our teachers too, who daily remind us that another world is possible.
Worship will offer three prayers stations for dogs, cats, and small animals in carriers and fish to receive blessings. Stuffies are also invited to be blessed. And there will be a time of prayer for you to add to the altar photos or items in memory of beloved animal kin who have passed.
May this blessing offer us space to celebrate and honor not all that we get from animals but the kindred covenant we live in with them. May this Sunday be one of many opportunities to connect to the sacredness, joy and teachings of all creation.
Image: Favianna Rodriguez, Dolores, a Warrior for All Living Beings, 2018, monotype collage