Life in Sanctuary is a microcosm for the rest of the world. Animals come here to live in safety and harmony, in as close to a natural setting as possible. We are a family here, and like all families we have to learn to let go.
Sometimes it's a mother cat, learning to let go of her kittens, as one of them dies, or as they learn to fend for themselves, or as I take them to be spayed or neutered. Sometimes it's one of the older animals passing on, in the natural rhythm of forms that come and go. Sometimes it's watching the 200 year old elm tree lose more branches each year, as it gracefully yields itself to the earth. And sometimes it's counseling pet owners who can no longer keep their animals, and are struggling with letting go. I have to let go of wanting to rescue, and simply be with them in the natural rhythm of their life choices. I have to trust that there is an order to things, and that whatever happens, it all works for good.
I remember the first time I really understood the wisdom of animals. I was very young, and my grandfather was aggravated at a cat. He was unfailingly kind to animals, but this cat got into the milk while he was milking a cow. So he picked her up and tossed her away. She landed gracefully, and sat and gazed at him, blinking to show non-aggression. She didn't hold it against him. Animals naturally let go from one minute to the next, naturally trusting the organic flow of life, even when it appears cruel. Nothing is what it appears. Life is unfailingly kind, unfailingly giving, unfailingly flowing and renewing if we can learn the art of letting go. This cat sat patiently, completely unfazed, letting go and trusting the situation. And when he was done milking, grandpa gave her a big dish of cream. :-)
Life is like that. And offering Sanctuary to animals has given me this gift, something I didn't learn from my family, who never let go of anything or anyone! To my surprise, I find that all true joy comes from this relaxed awareness and trust, even in the face of challenges. The flow of life naturally takes us back to joy when we learn the art of letting go...