A recent trip to Aruba was full of unexpected opportunities to offer Reiki. There were two sanctuaries on island. I was hesitant at the first as we came upon the site while exploring. Two young men took our $10 donation and gave us bags of pellets and cut carrots.
I must say that I hate zoos! Any place, no matter how conscientious, that “rescues” and incarcerates wild animals is immediately subject to my skepticism and judgment. Now, I admit this because as a SARA practitioner one of my commitments is to seek out these animals and understand that my indignation is irrelevant to creating and offering a healing space for all creatures. I do not support them well by coming myself blocked by offense and disdain. I can use those to support organizations that are exemplars in the rescue and sanctuary business but the animal residents, wherever they are and whatever their circumstances, need my peaceful support and offering.
I was deeply aware of my attitude. I felt the boredom and loneliness of the monkeys, the frustrated confinement and depression of the kangaroo and camels and the, I imagined, longing for freedom of all. I asked questions about where and how these animals were rescued, how they are supported, who cares and considers their fate? I knew that I had to shift myself in order to begin with the precepts and be a blessing, a peaceful visitor.
I was taught by these animals, at each enclosure or habitat, how to “be”. Suspending activist indignation on their behalf I began to focus on their breathing and their eyes. It was clear that my political orientation was not the way to peace. Through their eyes I saw the care with which each space had been designed, the tenderness that went into cutting the bags and bags of fresh carrots. I saw the clean and large enclosures, the provision of shade, the play equipment and communities that had formed. In their eyes I noticed that only animals that could thrive in this hot, arid, desert were at home here. There were no savanna-needing, water-living, tropical forest animals displaced here. This habitat was created to welcome and support animals, to remind them of home and to improve conditions over those they had experienced before.
It was hard for me to get to this starting point but I am so grateful that I did. Not only was I able to offer Reiki here and feel it absorbed and reflected, but I was able to more quickly reach my own starting point the next day. So day 1; I was grateful to offer a peaceful, powerful perpetual healing space to donkeys, horses, goats, deer, kangaroos, camels, monkeys, alpacas, birds and reptiles. And, to receive the patience, wisdom and gratitude they conveyed. There was a great deal of eye contact and engagement in which I was honored and awed.
Day 2; we came upon a donkey sanctuary where 140 (only 5 still at large on the island) animals live in a community of care. We heard stories of how this place had been horrible in the past with the animals emaciated and dirty, hot and mistreated. We found a carefully planned environment where the animals are respected and appreciated. Visitors are not only given food to share but brushes to offer brief peace from flies and to provide a different kind of positive inter-species interaction as humans scratch the dry and itchy places in donkey coats. As a result the animals are gentle and welcoming. There are cats and chickens wandering among the donkeys. Fragrant bushes give shade and butterflies join.
These two visits prepared me for the next two occurrences of our short vacation. On our last day, while filling our rental car’s gas tank we heard the heart-wrenching sound of a street dog hit by a car. It was immediately clear to me that my best involvement was Reiki and I was able to create a space where the dog could cross over or stay here, wherever healing would be better. I never ran or turned to see the outcome but I was peacefully confident that I had offered the needed comfort.
On our way home, standing and waiting in long “extreme vetting” lines at the airport, I met a dog heading to Springfield MA to an adopting home. He was shaking and trusting and about to be put alone in cargo for a trip so traumatic humans could not dwell on it. Better to focus on the final destination. The dog was being aided by an American woman who lives in Aruba but who volunteers to help get Aruban Street dogs to the States and homed. She told me that she had used lavender oil this morning to help calm and soothe and I offered Reiki and a massage on the floor in line. What a sweet and gentle spirit. I thought then of the dog who may or may not have passed the day before, of the long day ahead for this pup, of the monkeys who seemed lonely and the donkeys who stretched their neck to be brushed. And, I thought of all the humans touched by and touching these creatures and how we can be Peace On Earth and I was grateful.