Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Different Kind of Sanctuary

My mother is in a nursing home suffering from dementia.  She rarely remembers my name anymore, but she ALWAYS remembers her cat, Mrs. Murphy.  When I take M.M. to see mom, she smiles in delight... Mrs. Murphy is just as delighted, and curls up on mom's bed for the duration.  I always hate to separate them again.

If I were to create a new model for elderly care, it would not involve more emphasis on keeping bodies alive.  It would involve loving relationships between animals and people living together in harmony, as well as between all individuals living under the same roof.  It would involve magnifying the beauty that is always present, the comfort of being together, the joy of sharing and communing.  These are not the values stressed in corporately modeled nursing homes.  Although they make a good show of 'caring' for the body and being 'nice', their aim is monetary, and the model is medical and pharmacological.  It's all about the survival of the body (which brings in cash), not about quality of life.  In other words, the doctors and investors (and the drug companies) make a lot of money, and the business provides a lot of low-end jobs without benefits to give the illusion of social responsibility.  What is even worse, many of these obviously for-profit organizations accept donations under the guise of non-profit foundations.

What does this have to do with Life in Sanctuary?  I have committed the Claire Foundation Animal Sanctuary to the very model that I would implement for elderly care for humans.  It doesn't involve more emphasis on keeping bodies alive, although we take good care of the creatures here. It involves loving relationships between animals and people as well as between all animals living under the same roof. When there is conflict, as there sometimes is, it is always lovingly and compassionately resolved, with the aggressors reconciled and happy once again.  Life in Sanctuary involves magnifying the beauty that is always present, the comfort of being together, and the joy of inter-species sharing and communing.  It is about Life, not about survival.  And when a creature passes on, it is from a life well-lived and well-loved.

So why not non-profit Sanctuaries for the elderly? 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Educating the Human Mind

"The ultimate goal of Sanctuary should be to change the ways that humans think of, and treat, non-human animals.  The Claire Foundation Animal Sanctuary is committed to the deep ecology of our human/animal connection, and how it can change the world." -- The Claire Foundation Mission Statement

As I read over the mission statement for our Sanctuary, I am filled with awe and love for the gift of this work.  Each and every life form on this land is a part of Sanctuary, not just the animals that have been 'rescued.'  There is a web of life that has nothing to do with the forms themselves, and everything to do with the larger Self that we all share.

In this little miniature of the world, we strive to awaken to the Love that lives us.  We strive to respect all life, without expecting it to be human, or ascribe human thoughts and limitations to it. 

You may think it strange that I call it Love that lives us.  After all, the feral cats sometimes kill the birds and bunnies, and the coyotes sometimes eat the cats, and the hawks and owls and black snakes all eat what is smaller.  So the appearance is one of competition and conflict.  But there is a larger context in which none of those human judgements are true at all.  There is a beauty and safety and harmony that simply IS.  

Without our human judgements, we fall again into the rhythm of Life, which is infinite.  Claire, my beloved canine companion of 15 years, passed on in December of last year.  But her wisdom, spirit, and even the remnants of her body, are forever a part of this land and its inhabitants.  Each and every frog and mushroom and bird and cat and dog and horse are forever contributing to this collective Being that we are.  

All fear and competition falls away as we realize that Life is One.  And my hope is that you will also provide sanctuary, even on a small scale, for the Life that we are.  Because we are all blessed by it beyond measure.