My neighbor around the corner, Szilvia, is an animal whisperer! I’ve never seen such devotion and tenderness. She has four large adopted dogs, one cat, and one new kitten. Recently, she was in the Pet Smart parking lot on her way to purchase more supplies for her rescued menagerie when a couple she knew from her Zumba class approached her with a handful of two, pitifully small, premature, kittens. Szilvia’s tender heart could not resist
their desperate meows and she took them to the vet, and then home. She nursed them all night long. Unfortunately, one passed and the other is now a scrappy, funny, little, big-eared kitten. Szilvia blesses all whom she touches with her love.

Where am I going with this story? Stay with me!

I’m traveling back in time to tell you yet another story. I must have been four or five years old, because we were still living in the city of Beirut. It was summer time, so as usual, we were playing outside. We found two newborn kittens behind a rain barrel in the alleyway between our apartment building and a tall wrought-iron fence lined with orange calla lilies and crimson geraniums. Hah! Even at that young age, I knew and loved flowers. But I digress. Anyway, we decided to play church. We sang the hymn we traditionally sang at baptisms, “Happy Day, Happy Day, When Jesus Took my Sins Away” (In Arabic, Ma Abhaja, Lyawma Lathee, Amantoo Fee Hee, Bil Maseeh). We then proceeded to dunk these poor, helpless kittens in the baptismal waters of the rain barrel!

I had forgotten this memory until a few months ago when I read the book, Gilead, by Marrilynne Robinson, where the main character also told a childhood story about he and his buddies baptizing some kittens in the creek when they were playing church. Did I relate or what?!?!?!

The point of view in Gilead, a country preacher, went on to speak of the power of blessing through baptism. He shared, “There is a reality in blessing, which I take baptism to be, primarily. It doesn’t enhance sacredness, but it acknowledges it, and there is power in that. I have felt it pass through me, so to speak. The sensation is of really knowing a creature. I mean really feeling its mysterious life and your own mysterious life at the same time.”

My friend, Szilvia, the animal whisperer, really knows her creatures and blesses them. At the time she is touching their lives, they are touching hers.

I pray that I have the same tenderness and sensitivity as she does and as the country preacher in Gilead did to bless others.

Are you attuned to your sacred power to bless others? Touch another with a blessing today.

O Lord, it is good to give thee thanks,to sing psalms to thy name, O most high, to declare thy love in the morning and thy constancy every night.

Psalms 92:1-2

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