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Word Gems 

exploring self-realization, sacred personhood, and full humanity



Inspiring Lessons of Service and Devotion
from Our Furry and Feathered Friends
Revealing the Open-Eyed and Unpretentious Mind of God




"Animals fulfill God's will most faithfully: they live to fulfill their Creator's purpose. We do not do this. We meddle with the work of the Creator. But the animals are themselves, and they fulfill the will of God that is within them in a true and faithful manner." Carl Jung






click on each of these titles:

Jasmine the dog that rescued other animals

The hippo that saved an antelope

Brutus the bear at the Thanksgiving Day meal

Polar bear, unexpected emissary of peace

A koala asks for a drink

The goose that asked a policeman for help

Judy the nurse dog

Pink the pig

Maria the devoted goose

Christian the lion: "I will always love you!"

Video clip of animals showing love and appreciation to humans



the open-eyed and unpretentious mind of God



Immanuel Kant: "He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals."

Anatole France: "Until one has loved an animal, part of one's soul remains unawakened."


"THE BLT" - Baloo, Leo, & Shere Khan

Baloo the American black bear (Ursus americanus ), Leo the African lion (Panthera leo), and Shere Khan the Bengal tiger (Panthera tigris tigris); known as "The BLT" came to Noah's Ark in 2001 after they were discovered by police officers in a basement of an Atlanta home during a drug raid. At only a few months old, all three cubs were frightened, malnourished, and infected with internal and external parasites when the Georgia Department of Natural Resources brought them to Noah’s Ark.  Shere Khan the tiger was underweight and malnourished, but with the treatment of his parasites and a healthy diet, he began to regain his cub like energy and appetite, as well as increase in weight. He is the most mischievous of the BLT, always pouncing Baloo and Leo. Shere Khan also seeks out affection the most and numerous times throughout the day he rubs heads and grooms his brothers, strengthening their bond. In fall of 2014 he was diagnosed with intervertebral disc disease but is responding well to treatment and should live many more years with his brothers. Bengal tigers are native to parts of India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Bhutan and because of habitat loss and poaching, they have a conservation status of endangered.They weigh 300-500 lbs and live to be roughly 20 years old in captivity. (Noah's Ark)


Mohandas Gandhi: "Man's nature is not essentially evil. Brute nature has been known to yield to the influence of love. You must never despair of human nature."

Winston Churchill: "I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."

John Berger: "Nothing in the nature around us is evil. This needs to be repeated since one of the human ways of talking oneself into inhuman acts is to cite the supposed cruelty of nature."


baby hedgehog


Richard Adams: "Animals don't behave like men, he said. If they have to fight, they fight; and if they have to kill, they kill. But they don't sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures' lives and hurting them. They have dignity and animality."

Silver Birch: "There is individual survival for domestic animals that have had positive association with humans. Thus they have been helped to achieve an individual evolution that is not possible with animals who are still in a group soul, or soul group, even on earth. It is part of the wonderful relationship that can exist between humans and animals, each helping the other to develop spiritually. You help the animal that comes into your surroundings to achieve a consciousness that is more personal and individual that it otherwise would have been. It is that which survives death. But where there is not this more evolved 'human' expression it joins the soul group or group soul."


Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home, interviewed by Alex Tsakiris:

"The research really was designed to look at the idea that telepathy and other psychic abilities, like premonitions and the sense of direction, are part of biological nature. If humans have them, we have them not because we're special or supernatural but because they're natural and these are normal abilities which occur in animals. So as a biologist I thought, 'Well, if these phenomena exist at all they should exist in animals.' That's where I looked for them, and I collected more than 5,000 case histories from people who work with animals, including dog trainers, police dog handlers, blind people with guide dogs, riders, etc., and also vets and cat owners. I found that many people had noticed things that suggested that animals could pick up their intentions. One of the easiest to test scientifically was the claim that many people make that their dog or cat knows when they're coming home and goes and waits at the door or window... I did proper experiments to test this. We had people come at random times in unfamiliar vehicles and we filmed the place where the dog waited. We found that with a dog called J.T. that 85% of the occasions when the owner was coming home, the dog was indeed waiting for her. He started when she decided to come home, before she even got into the vehicle, and he waited there most of the time. This happened at random times of day in different vehicles, taxis and other vehicles, that she'd never been in before. We built up a body of evidence from this and other dogs showing that there seems to be a real ability and that it seems to be a matter of the dog picking up the person's intention."



MEDIUM'S DOG, FREIDA, MATERIALIZES: On April 17, 2011, Kai Meugge, the medium of the Felix Experimental Group, posted on Facebook the sad news that his dog Freida, whom he had rescued from the streets of Athens and lived with "in total symbiosis" for eight years, had died unexpectedly. He hoped that she would be throwing sticks with his friend Hans Bender in the spirit world. However, that hope turned into knowing when Freida materialized in his seance a week later. In the presence of Dr. M. Mnahm and several other sitters, Frieda was giving signs of survival in the seance room. Above the plaque where usually only hands of spirit people are showing, suddenly her small paw became visible. Then she was doing her typical demand-behaviour, touching considerably with her paw the knee of sitter, as if wanting a treat or something. Her tail was waggling extensively at the lower legs of many sitters.


The Andy Griffith Show, "Dogs, Dogs, Dogs," April 1963: Barney Fife (Don Knotts): "Selfish giraffes! lookin' out for number-one! runnin' around! gettin' strict by lightnin'! Now, dogs, they take care of their own."

Robert Louis Stevenson: "You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us."



Unknown: "Dogs have owners, cats have staff" ... "To err is human, to forgive, canine."

Samuel Butler: "All of the animals except for man know that the principle business of life is to enjoy it."



perfect trust

December 10, 2011: Tom Satre told the Sitka Gazette that he was out with a charter group on his 62-foot fishing vessel when four juvenile black-tailed deer swam directly toward his boat.
"Once the deer reached the boat, the four began to... circle the boat, looking directly at us. We could tell right away that the young bucks were distressed. I opened up my back gate and we helped the typically skittish and absolutely wild animals onto the boat. In all my years fishing, I've never seen anything quite like it! Once on-board, they collapsed with exhaustion, shivering. We headed for Taku Harbour. Once we reached the dock, the first buck that we had been pulled from the water hopped onto the dock, looked back as if to say 'thank you' and disappeared into the forest.
"After a bit of prodding and assistance, two more followed, but the smallest deer needed a little more help. My daughter, Anna, and son, Tim, helped the last buck to its feet. We didn't know how long they had been in the icy waters or if there had been others who did not survive. My daughter later told me that the experience was something that she would never forget, and I suspect the deer felt the same way as well!"





Hans Christian Andersen, The Ugly Duckling: "Even his brothers and sisters were unkind to him, and would say, 'Ah, you ugly creature, I wish the cat would get you,' and his mother said she wished he had never been born. The ducks pecked him, the chickens beat him, and the girl who fed the poultry kicked him." READ MORE



This Pit Bull wouldn't leave the animal rescue without the frightened Chihuahua she had been protecting. This is a picture in the new owners car after being adopted together.



Mahatma Gandhi: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."

Rudyard Kipling: "The Cat. He walked by himself, and all places were alike to him."


Editor's note: Friends called her Maribelle, a timid and gentle dove that made a nest on my livingroom windowsill. She had grown less fearful, however, more accepting of momentary glances assessing her progress. Sadly, one morning (May 1, 2011), both Maribelle and her eggs, without a trace, were gone! the victim, I presume, of some natural predator.


cockatoo bebops to elvis


A very funny animal video -- a cockatoo (right) thoroughly gets into Elvis's "Don't Be Cruel," gyrating in-time with the music. A less-than-enthused friend (left) raises his foot, but not a ruckus, to maintain a discreet distance lest he be drawn into the mosh-pit.

CLICK HERE to see the video



Father Robert Benson, More Life In The World Unseen: Robert and Ruth have just helped 18 year-old Roger transition to the Spirit World (the year 1951). Weakened by a terminal illness, Roger has awakened after his inter-dimensional trip and is regaining strength in a new land. Ruth summons a tiny bird, having flown into the room through an open window, to light upon her finger:

The bird was dressed in a smart livery of pale gray feathers. Roger was greatly interested when Ruth transferred the bird to his own finger.
"He often visits us here," I told him, "though he really belongs to two old earth friends of mine."
"Then what is he doing here [in Summerland]?" asked Roger.
"Well, he was found by my friends in great distress when he was but a fledgeling; they cared for him, watched him grow, but sad to say, he came to grief. Possibly he became a trifle too daring, overdid things, had some sort of sudden seizure, and died almost at once. A great pity. He was like you, Roger, he had hardly begun his life. And exactly like you, Roger, he passed into these beautiful lands and was cared for immediately, just as we try to do for all the human souls who come to us. That small bird, so very inconsiderable on earth, and the action of my two friends, equally inconsiderable, have not been lost. Their affection for that tiny atom of life has preserved that life for all time. At present, he is part of the household of a mutual old friend, who already has other bird and animal friends of his own. They're a merry family, and we'll take you along to see him and them. Don't you think he is a rather handsome fellow?"


Mary Bly: "Dogs come when they're called; cats take a message and get back to you."

Abraham Lincoln: "I care not for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it."



turtle power!



An inspiring scene, two turtles, one having capsized, with his friend to the rescue.



Alfred North Whitehead: "If a dog jumps in your lap, it is because he is fond of you; but if a cat does the same thing, it is because your lap is warmer."

Montaigne: "When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is not amusing herself with me more than I with her?"



a dog assists one of the great unrecognized heroines of WWII

 80 year-old Art Bosman in the Netherlands, sent this story to me with a note:

"I send [the report] to many... I lived that war... Saw them all being loaded in those terrible freightcars. With machine guns. Chased in. Terrible sight to see."

Irena Sendler

There recently was a death of a 98 year-old lady named Irena. During WWII, Irena got permission to work in the  Warsaw ghetto as a plumbing/sewer specialist.

She had an "ulterior motive." She knew what the Nazis' plans were for the Jews (being German). Irena smuggled infants in the bottom of the tool box she carried and in the back of her burlap sack, (for larger kids).

She also had a dog that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers wanted nothing to do with the dog, and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.

During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants. She was caught, and the Nazis broke both her legs, arms, and beat her severely.

Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it and reunited the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.



Edward C. Randall and Emily S. French worked together in the area of direct-voice mediumship for 22 years, receiving thousands of audio-communications from the Spirit World. A person on the other side relates her crossing-over experience:

"[My spirit guide] said the place I was in [a most beautiful world] was the destination of those who spend their lives and energy on earth for the sake of their fellow-creatures, people who do great deeds for the uplift of the oppressed - the abode of people who showed equal compassion to both men and beasts."




A memorable story of animal love, devotion, and loyalty. Hachi waits 10 years for his master's return!







primal joy: the secret life of baby animals and the unguarded, unpretentious mind of God


Editor's note: These two 8 year-olds obviously are emotionally attached. Childhood can be a time of easy infatuation, dream-worship, and unrealistic expectations, however, it can also be a time of seeing the world through the unguarded, unpretentious mind of God. Babies' love and joy, of whatever species, I believe, reveal God in a special way.



Alabama Rain

We were only kids,
but then, I've never heard it said
that kids can't fall in love
and feel the same
, I can still remember
the first time I told you...
I just don't know what happened...



There is a story, apparently true, a biographical account of a missionary couple. When they were 8 years-old their parents, also missionaries, were stationed in Africa; at that very young age, these two children decided that they wanted to be married someday. She said she would wait for him to grow up. He sealed their pact with a small gift, a sample of perfume, obtained from his mother.

I am reminded of the closing words of the movie, Stand By Me (paraphrased): "I never had a better friend than the one I had when I was 8 - does anyone?"



"made in the image" 

There are countless examples – stories, photos, videos – of humans lovingly interacting with animals. But this one felt different and profoundly moved me. It seems that the little girl had raised this donkey, but then the two were separated. Sometime later, with reunion, the donkey poured forth such doleful and cathartic release of deep feeling. I’m not sure if I’d ever seen, or heard, anything like it (you’ll be able to find it on youtube).

Witnessing this marvel, the phrase “made in the image” pressed hard upon my spirit. Normally, we reserve these words for those resembling the little girl. But, having experienced the “inner weeping for joy” of the donkey, I’m not so sure now. I’ve come to see that “made in the image,” in its best sense, refers to the finest sensibilities of the divine spirit – love, joy, peace, and similar ecstatic virtues -- the mind of God, if you will. As a young man, I assumed that these attributes, albeit rarely, constituted the exclusive preserve of humans. I don’t see it that way anymore.

I think there’s a sliding scale for “made in the image.” Probably, among those of greater sentience, of enhanced consciousness, we will find the highest expressions of “made in the image, but some animals are also on the road to evolvement, and why should God’s other dear creatures, of all persuasions, be excluded from the mind of God?

(See a related discussion in “The Wedding Song” regarding love as perception of oneness, of the inner life of God, resident within every aspect of creation.)

Editor’s note: As a young man, I spent some time at a bible college. My wide-margin KJV study bible became so clogged with annotations -- small print, etched with a finest-point Rapidograph pen; a veritable work of art in its own right -- that my friends joked that it “would enter the kingdom before” I did. No doubt. However, today I see other candidates – our furry and feathered friends -- who will have no trouble skating into Summerland unopposed.




Editor's last word: