I was in Central Park last Sunday waiting for my wife and son at the 72nd St. playground. I was an outsider looking in from beyond the railing because I had the dog, and dogs are the last of the citizenry that can be so discriminated against. NO DOGS ALLOWED. At the exact moment of this thought, I saw a priest leading several people, who were in turn leading dogs, to a quiet little grassy area in the park. At first, I thought I was about to witness a dog wedding. This made a fair amount of sense, the dogs of two upscale east-siders perhaps aligning their well pedigreed blood lines – Westminster’s a lock! Although, who knows, perhaps the dogs actually loved each other and were for some reason interested in having a civil ceremony in front of family and friends. Now I’ve seen everything, I thought. A dog wedding.
But then it turned out that it was a ceremony of blessings in honor of St. Francis, who died on October 3, 1226, at the age of 44. There was a second priest. A woman. This meant they were Anglican. Anglicanism, aka the Church of England, considers itself to be Catholic as well as reformed. Which is to say, Catholic, but loose, looser. Slightly more loose. You get the idea. Woman can be priests. You can get divorced. And the female priest was hot, so good on you Anglican Church.
In fact, the two priests seemed like they would make a good couple. First off, they have that being a priest thing in common just as a starting point. And beyond that, they just looked good together – matching outfits. The choreography was smooth too.
But do the Anglicans allow priests to get married? I don’t know, but I wish them the best. For real. Because they came out to bless the dogs including a particularly vocal English Bulldog, a French Bulldog, and two brown labs. Not to mention one especially stocky weiner dog, namely mine.
And though I am in no way religious, this ceremony to bless our beloved pets reaffirmed my faith in humanity somehow.
A cursory glance at the internet and you’ll see a cascade of dead bodies, infectious microbes, and civil unrest. All the crazy shit going on everywhere. And then this, somebody took the time to do a nice thing, a small thing true, lacking the fire of political revolution or the potential downfall of humanity in an airborne plague, but no less important. Two Anglican priests blessed dogs (and all other creatures) in Central Park on a beautiful early fall day.
The priests gave special individual blessings. Spanky stayed a foot out of reach the whole time. He never did like people, even when they were praying for him.
And then, almost as quickly as it had begun it was over. What was the meaning of it all, I wondered? What was the takeaway?
A Prayer Attributed to St. Francis (*Slight Modifications)
Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are free.
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