Category Archives: Stories

Looking With Eyes of Compassion

monk-3605316_1280I have been working on a chapbook of essays and poems about all of the beings that I have come into contact with in my life. The dogs, the hens, and the bunnies that I have rescued over the years. The birds at Elephant Belly Sanctuary. My little dogs.

Last Saturday, I was reading some of my new work to a dear friend.

She asked me, is everything that you write so sad?

At first I felt the need to convince her that I have joyful work too. That it’s not all about love and loss, animals rescued from neglect and abuse, and the slipping away of life. I searched through the stories to find one that is happy and beautiful wanting to bring her joy through her tears.

But the truth is, that I wake up most mornings crying for the world. I wake up and the first thing I think about is how much pain and suffering is happening at the exact moment that I open my eyes in my bed- safe and warm.

Thich Nhat Hahn taught me that Every Day Is A Miracle. And I truly believe that. And every day 25 million farm animals are slaughtered in the United States. How I have managed to hold both of those truths in my tender heart is a mystery.

Yes, there is beauty in this world. And I desperately want to write about it and sing sweet songs in the morning sun. And I also want to share with you, in the most gentle and kind way, information about the harm that we cause. The effects of our actions. Because you might not know. And you might want to choose to be a part of the miracle of peace today.

Thich Nhat Hanh says,

“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”

Just today, a new day full of wonder, can you look at all beings with eyes of compassion?

LLM

A Winter Morning at Elephant Belly Sanctuary

trees

Waking up every day at Elephant Belly Sanctuary is a miracle.

At dawn, Monroe, my little blonde Doodle, eats her early morning meal while I fill the light blue Le Creuset tea kettle with the ice cold well water and put it on the burner. Five tight scoops of blended coffee fall into the french press and then Monroe and I head out to take care of the ladies.

The Chickenbergs, my family of rescued hens, are always excited to welcome the new day. I open their coop and they come pouring out with their soft baulk baulks and feather shakes. I throw them a scoop of scratch, fill their water and feed, and do a quick check of their feet, combs, and eyes. I love how the all say good morning in their own way.

I head to the garage, fill the gray bucket with four scoops of black sunflower seeds and walk into the back yard. The first view of the heart shaped mountains, the Hudson Highlands, is breathtaking. At this time of year, the trees are bare and the pink sunrise illuminates their vulnerability. They stand strong, naked, and still. Taking a deep breath in, I feel like them- alive and excited- to feel the warmth of the morning sun.

The birds- black capped chickadees, tufted titmice, nuthatches, goldfinches, and downey woodpeckers- meet me on my way to the feeders. And the fat squirrels, hide on the edge of the forest waiting for their morning snack. I say hello with a smile and fill the feeders to the brim.

Before heading back inside, I am certain to check the cairns that mark the memory of our dear bunnies- The Roosevelts- Franklin, Eleanor, and Teddy. Rescued, deeply loved, and lost…I pause…my eyes still stinging with tears- and straighten the balancing stones.

Monroe and I head back inside, pour the boiling water into the press, warm the soy milk, hit the 5 minute timer, and we sit for our morning love session. I pet her, kiss her, love her as she burrows her head into my lap. Her face so soft and smelly. Her blonde curls, wispy and cute. Her bumpy old body tight and little. We kiss and coo and cuddle. Smile and love and lay side by side gazing into each other’s eyes.

The timer beeps and the coffee is ready. Once poured and prepared perfectly, I bring the two cups of liquid love into the bedroom- with my Doodle right behind me. My Love is sleeping soundly with her Chloe- a black and white Shih Tzu- curled around her head like a cat. Warm, still, breathing sweetly, they are one animal resting in a bed of cozy blankets and dreams. I set the coffee on her night stand and whisper “Good Morning My Love, your coffee is ready.”

There is a song we sing in the morning and it goes like this:

“It’s a beautiful day in Cold Spring,

What a wonderful day in Cold Spring,

Gonna love my baby in Cold Spring,

It’s gonna be a wonderful day!”