The mystical connection between people and pets will be the focus on Sunday of an event that harks back to a religious tradition, but is very much grounded in the present.
Sponsored by three local churches, and assisted by the Scotland County Humane Society, the annual Blessing of the Animals is set for 3 p.m. at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 506 Azure Court. The other two participating churches are Laurinburg Presbyterian and the Lutheran Church of the Living Word.
The strong bond between person and pet is evident in the large number of folks who own pets and who spend significant amounts of money on their care and upkeep. But some folks believe as did St. Francis of Assisi, a monk of the 13th century, that the bonds between fellow creatures is a very basic form of communication, non-verbal and eye to eye.
The Blessing of the Animals service is held the Sunday closest to the Feast Day of St. Francis and takes its inspiration from the life of this Italian Catholic friar who lived a life of voluntary poverty and is most remembered and revered for his love of animals. St. Francis believed in the ability and duty of all creatures to worship God.
On Sunday, Dr. Weston Cook, a member of The Order of St. Francis in the Episcopal Church and a member of St. David’s, will be offering the hands-on blessings for the animals. His interest in the role of animals in society and in God’s creation also has led to his work as a board member of the Scotland County Humane Society.
Pet lovers in the city and across the county are invited to bring their pets, on leash or in crates, to this event that will include animals ready for adoption from the animal shelter. In addition to receiving a blessing, pets will have opportunity to socialize with other animals of their ilk.
“In the past, we have held the service inside the church with never an accident on the rug, but this year it will be outside,” said Carolyn Beranek, senior warden at the church.
Although dogs and cats will probably get top billing at this event, it is not outside the realm of possibility that a menagerie of pets including, horses, iguanas, snakes, ferrets, hedgehogs, calves, goats, sheep, gold fish and even a grasshopper might show up.
All God’s creatures are welcome.
Flo Johnston is a Laurinburg resident and religion columnist for community newspapers in North Carolina. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.