We Are On This Earth Together

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Photos by Scott Lynch/Gothamist)

On this October 4, let us honor the feast day of Saint Francis of Assisi, peacemaker, believer in reconciliation and Patron Saint of Animals, who preached harmony between humans and nature. Around the world, people mark the day with the Blessing of the Animals, joyfully bringing together in church all God's creatures great and small and sometimes noisy - from dogs, cats, birds to ponies, llamas, camels - to be blessed, celebrate the gifts of creation, honor the peacemaking spirit of Francis, and give thanks.

On Sunday, New York's Cathedral of Saint John the Divine offered readings, prayers, sermons, songs and two choices for four-footed audience members: They could be blessed in the Procession of Animals, or be blessed outside at several stations on the Pulpit Green. Their humans, representing different faiths, wept, laughed, cleaned up poop, spoke of being stewards of the earth, and praised the event's "peacefulness, a really special kind of sacred feeling to it." Said one, whose dog Baxter he declared "interfaith," "There's so many wonders in this service that connect people and animals and God." In this sordid season of rancor, we'll take whatever connection we can find. From Job 12: 7-10: "Ask the birds, ask the beasts and they will teach you."

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