A Vegetarian Journal for Quakers and Other People of Faith
The Peaceable Table is intended for the mutual support, education, and inspiration of people of faith in the practice of love for our fellow animals and observance of a Peace-full diet
A Glimpse of the Peaceable Kingdom
This is a good example of a mutual nuzzle--neither friend seems to be the initiator, and both look thoroughly blissed out. May we learn from the “least” of these our sisters and brothers.
--Contributed by Benjamin Urrutia
Editor’s Corner Guest Essay: Eagle in Disguise
--by Maru Vigo
I was only seven, and even though I apparently had everything my heart desired, I always felt that something was missing in my life until the day I realized what it was: a companion
animal to share his life with mine. I begged my parents for one many, many times but
they did not believe in keeping animals in small spaces. In fact, our apartment was not small and we certainly had enough room, but my father’s concept of “small spaces” was very
particular. He had grown up in a big hacienda where animals, domestic or not, had plenty of room to roam and live, so the limitations of our apartment were not negotiable for him.
I must had been either a very persistent and perseverant girl, or the worst pest that ever existed on the face of the earth, because, after a few months, my parents finally gave in and got me a tiny chick from the market. When I look back at those times, I think they gave me a chicken to bore me to death; to exhaust my never ending energy or simply to keep me busy from bothering them with the companion animal issue for ever and ever.
My friends at school never dared to make fun of my new acquired friend but I caught
them laughing secretly a couple of times. I did not care at all. I was determined to make
the best out of that situation and I proceeded to give him a proper name. This task was
complicated because I had no idea how you were supposed to name chickens, so I
decided to wait for some personality traits to appear in order to select a proper name. The most relevant characteristic he displayed was his constant desire to fly. Many times I had to rescue him from our neighbor’s houses and more than once I had to save his life when people in the streets did not see a companion, but a meal ready to be prepared! I named him Jorge Chávez after the first Peruvian aviator to fly across the Alps in 1910.
Everyone at home used to get upset at him for flying away from the nice home I made for him in the terrace, but secretly I was proud of him and his dream to be liberated. I almost encouraged his desire to fly away and be free because, even at that early age, I firmly believed that if a creature had wings he should have been able to fly. Jorge was an eagle in disguise, and in his own particular way, he was showing me the way to be free too.
Jorge and I used to sit on top of the roof wrapped in a blanket during the humid winters in
Lima and with a glass of iced lemonade during the hot summer months. Sometimes, I
read to him the stories I wrote about him at school and some other times we just sat quietly, enjoying the eloquence of a silence in which he probably thought about his dreams of flying like an eagle and I thought about joining him, somehow. We were one in mind and soul and there was no void in my heart anymore.
But one day, my maternal grandmother came for a visit while I was at school. Being the dominant matriarch that she was, she proclaimed that chickens were in this
planet for only one reason, and she served him to us for dinner. I hated everyone that day. I hated my grandmother, I hated my family for not standing up for me and Jorge, for not respecting the link that existed between us. I cried all night and refused to eat chicken
--Maru Vigo and dog friend for a while, but my small revolution only lasted for a short time. I convinced myself that, after all, the chickens I was eating were not Jorge; they were animals placed on this earth to be eaten. Maybe my grief made me unable to associate this creature that I learned to love with the others that were elaborated dishes on my table.
It took more than twenty years for me to finally make the connection and see all of them under the same light; to finally understand that all living creatures are nobody’s property and are deserving of consideration and respect. Sometimes, it takes a long time to see the truth, but now that I am a vegan and an animal advocate, I can think of all those childhood lessons learned and see Jorge flying up in the sky with the eagles. At seven, I was powerless and unable to do anything to save him, but now I am happy to be one of the defenders of his kind.
Now I know that he was always ahead of me in the fulfillment of our dreams.
María (Maru) Vigo grew up in Lima, Peru, and moved to Arizona in 1987. She has been an animal rights activist on behalf of our dear furry and feathered cousins since 1980.
“The insect in the plant, the moth which spends its brief hours of existence hovering about the candle’s flame--nay, the life which inhabits a drop of water, is as much an object of God’s special providence as the mightiest monarch on his throne.”--Henry Bergh, founder of ASPCA
“God is good to all, and his [her] tender mercies are over all his works.”--Ps. 145:9
Make Way for a Gosling
Would you believe a goose mother pecking on the side of a parked patrol car, walking away, then walking back and pecking some more, until she got a compassionate Officer Michael-type, with a woman colleague, to come and rescue her baby, who was entangled in a balloon string? Would you believe it happened on Mothers’ Day?
See Save My Child!
It’s good to be reminded that some police still are there to protect and to serve.
--Contributed by Judy Carman
Fishes Have Feelings Too
Did you miss this remarkable article by biologist Jonathan Balcombe in the May 14 New York Times? Balcombe, a long-time friend of animals, reports on his own and other biologists’ observations, leading to the conclusion that marine animals not only have feelings, some can evidently recognize themselves in a mirror! See Fishes Feel .
Humpback whales have been observed various times by ecologists sabotaging the pack hunts of orcas, and rescuing their intended prey. In one case, a humpback rescued a Weddell seal that orcas were trying to dislodge from an ice floe, by giving him a place of refuge on her back until the orcas dispersed. See Altruists
--Contributed by Judy Carman
Humane Party in the Running
Like a few other nations, the US has a political party committed to rights for all animals, including humans, and a strong commitment to planetary health. Like any new political party, it is small and doesn’t expect its candidates to win the presidential election; rather it seeks to make its values known and have a strong influence on the future. See Humane Party .
Anti-Trust Suit Against Dairy Groups Succeeds
Trade groups representing most of the dairy industry were successfully charged in a class-action lawsuit for killing half a million young cows to jack up dairy prices. And we thought all those cruel factory-farm policies were for the purpose of lowering prices . . . See Lawsuit .
--Contributed by Mercy for Animals
Letter: Rafael Veloz
Dear Peaceable Friends,
I really enjoyed the article in the August PT about cultural sin [“In Memory of Harambe, Part II”]. I totally agree on all points. The blaming of the victim happens a lot in many different situations; and language, our greatest communicator, plays a major part in dulling the senses or diminishing the impact [the victimization should have] . . . .
I’ve found someone who finds your PT articles interesting as well, and whom I converse with. We talk about bad eating habits, the food here (how it’s bad for you) and other topics we are both familiar with. We feed that need for intelligent conversation we both have . . . .
Pioneer: Marianus, d. C.E. 473
Marianus, also known as Marcian and Marian, of Auxerre, was an eminent figure of early Christian monasticism in the time of the Roman Empire's protracted collapse before various barbarian invaders. He is above all known for his spiritual bond with animals.
Little is known about Marianus' early life. He seems to have come from Bourges, then known as Avaricum, in what is now central France, and to have fled from it, "as from pollution," one text says, when the Visigoths seized that elegant Roman city around 450. Marianus sought refuge in a monastery in Auxerre in east central France under the saintly Mamertinus as abbot. Sources emphasize that Marianus was not a saint himself at this time, just another refugee looking out for himself and trying to get clear of a scene of pillage and violence. Mamertinus, aware of this but apparently sensing some potential in the young man, admitted him to the cloister but tested him by assigning him to a lowly job, care of the order's cows and sheep.
That was exactly right for him; something came to life in the fugitive from violence as he undertook that task. Marianus wanted nothing else, and took on feeding and herding cheerfully, even joyously. The fields and flocks were the place for him, not the scholarship or liturgical skills of some other monks. We are told that the animals under his charge thrived and multiplied at astonishing rates, and were extraordinarily responsive and obedient to their monkish guardian. He displayed an uncanny rapport with birds and beasts, a closeness that soon came to be seen as a gift from God. Flying friends would surround him and eat out of his hands; bears and wolves would leave his herds alone at his simple command.
The picture we have of him is of a magnetic personality with traits hinting at the paranormal, but contains no miracles; and almost all center around his job as animal tender. (The only exception is a claim that he once hid a frightened wild boar being pursued by hunters, saving the animal's life; but this may be a legendary note, as it appears in the lives of a number of early medieval saints.) Thus, though the remaining accounts of him probably were not written down soon after his lifetime, they feel convincing rather than otherwise.
The abbey's animals knew their black-robed human would never harm them, but rather would feel their fear or pain if in danger, Clearly Marianus, through his interaction with the “lowly” animals, had attained that love and inward communion with all creatures toward which we who are dedicated to animal kinship aspire.
We are not explicitly told whether he was a vegetarian, but as mentioned in the Pioneer account of Aventine ( PT 123 ) a generation after Marianus, monks and other devout persons during and after Roman times tended to be in reaction against the excesses of Roman patrician life, especially in regard to eating. Because gorging on animal flesh particularly typified this often-disgusting overindulgence, monks of ancient times ate lightly or even austerely, usually abstaining from meat (though fish flesh, oddly, was not considered meat). But monastic vegetarian regimes may also have been influenced by a compassionate, meat-rejecting thread in pagan Greek and Roman culture running almost nine hundred years, from Pythagoras in 570 BCE to Porphyry in 300 CE ( PT 11 ), ( PT 5 ). So Marianus, as a monk of the 400s CE, very probably ate no land animals; whether or not he also had compassion on fish--Auxerre is on a river--and declined to eat them is a matter of speculation.
Marianus was soon recognized as a saint, that is, one through whom divine love and transformative power are manifested. Indeed, his monastery was named after him following his death. Yet we must observe that a man of God like him, notable only for his loving relationship with animals, seems far less celebrated or well known than many other saints who did quite admirable works of mercy among humans. (A notable exception is Francis of Assisi, though perhaps most who honor him with a statue in their gardens don’t bother to imitate him.) It seems that many in the Christian tradition still think of the kingdom of God as a hierarchy, in which humans are above animals even as God is above humans, rather than as a great harmony of life in which all love and serve one another both in grief and in joy, in which "the whole created universe groans in all its parts as if in the pangs of childbirth" (Rom. 8:22), and at the same time "wild beasts and cattle, creeping things and winged birds. . . praise the name of the Lord" (Ps. 148:10). In its wide circles the seer of Revelation could hear "every created thing in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, all that is in them, crying: 'Praise and honor, glory and might, to him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb for ever and ever!' And the four beasts said, 'Amen.'" (Rev. 5:13-14)
Marianus clearly harkened to those voices from supposed high and low as one, and joined in them. Perhaps when we, as it were, stand among them before God we will see that unassuming monk of the “Dark Ages” well placed in the celestial choir, and let our voices be heard with his as well.
Book Report: Sacred Gifts of a Short Life
Liz Fernandez, DMV, Sacred Gifts of a Short Life: Uncovering the Wisdom of Our Pets’ End of Life Journeys. Simi Valley, CA: Valstar Publishing, 2016. 171 pages. $14.95 paper. Author's website as given in the book: email@example.com
Liz Fernandez, who lives in Ventura county, California, is a very special veterinarian who combines Western science with acupuncture and other Chinese-based practices in her treatment of animals. Her sensitivity toward the dogs and cats she heals or assists in transition out of this life, and toward the humans who love them, radiates through every page of this short but unforgettable book. The present volume deals with the euthanasia of patients whose time has come, which she often performs in the home so as to spare the animal a trip to the vet's office, and especially with the attitude of those sad but understanding caregivers who are with them in their last moments.
As Fernandez says at the outset, "Veterinarians have a unique relationship with death. In this society, ours is the only profession sanctioned to euthanize a living being because they are loved, and not because they are being punished to to be used as food." She acknowledges that this role is difficult for some vets and hard for others to understand. But through it she has been led to think very deeply about life and death, and about the grief of those who nonetheless have come to accept it is time to say farewell to a beloved companion.
In this respect she notes that "no one person's grief is greater than another's, and . . . the loss of an animal companion can be the worst loss someone will ever experience." No one who has truly loved animals can accept the canard that you "shouldn't" grieve as much for an animal as for a person; losses and griefs simply cannot be compared as if on some value scale. Each has the full reality of its time and place.
The bulk of Sacred Gifts consists of accounts of euthanasias performed by Dr. Fernandez: the state of the animal companion, the decision it was time, the dread sacred experience itself, the aftermath. The examples deal concretely with such matters as whether children should be present (the author believes they should if they want to be), and how one should know if it is time. On the latter: "The issue of euthanasia is ultimately about love. Since love is alive in the present moment, the answer to the question, 'Is it time?' can only be answered from a place of love." "The decision to euthanize is one we can't know for sure until we know. And, at some point, we do know. The answer arises within us. No explanation really explains it, yet the truth becomes obvious." This kind of subtle awareness is characteristic of all the stories, and of the whole book.
Toward the end of the book, Fernandez gets into deep and open-minded reflections on life and death generally, growing out of her profound encounters with animals entering and leaving our particular world: "What if we consider death as a doorway into [the] ultimate eternal mystery -- a way to access the void, the emptiness, the stillness, the silence? Our society has not invited us to befriend this mystery. Instead, it denies death, ignores it, and pushes it out of every corner of our experience. No wonder we're so frightened by it!" We have no context for it, she says, and may regard death -- or life -- as "illusion." "When spiritual traditions speak of illusion, they are referring to anything that is temporary, anything that can die. . . Death invites us to engage this inquiry. The answer comes through our direct experience. Can we allow the death of our pets to be an invitation to dance with this eternal mystery? Can we begin to engage that which is beyond the physical? Death can move us into a space of openhearted love. . . Death is love made manifest."
I am reminded that the word "illusion" actually is derived from a form of the Latin ludere, to play. This suggests that if we call life, or death, an illusion we are not saying it is just an empty hallucination, but like a game we are playing both for the fun of it and to win something during the time from when we enter the playing field until we leave it. Or, to use Fernandez's other image, it is a feet-on-the-floor dance with the eternal mystery from when we leave our seats on the side until it's time to return. Surely the lives of our beloved animal friends, brief as they are yet full of joy and vigor at their peak, are lessons we may learn about the game and the dance.
These are thoughts generated by this unique and wonderful book. By all means buy it, give it to your animal-loving friends, and treasure it -- particularly when that time comes.
Recipe: Raisin Pancakes
¾ cup whole grain flour
1 ¼ cup soy milk or nut milk
2 teas. non-aluminum baking powder
1 teas. cinnamon
Pinch of cloves
Pinch of salt
2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
Handful of raisins
½ teas. olive oil (optional)
Top with applesauce, sliced bananas or blueberries (optional)
Set plates in oven to warm and put teflon frying pan on burner on medium-high heat before assembling ingredients. Mix dry ingredients together. Add about half of soy milk and stir gently; add the rest of soy milk and stir until relatively smooth--small lumps are okay. Mix in half of raisins and fry two pancakes with the oil. Then mix in the rest of the raisins and fry the rest.
Tips: Making good pancakes is something that takes practice. Each time you put one on to fry, and after turning it, check front and side to see that the pancake is centered over the flame. It’s not practical to use a timer because each is on so briefly, so I count to 60 while each side is frying: “one thousand one, one thousand two . . .” The first one may take only 50 seconds; lift pancake on one edge to check. Adjust heat as necessary to insure that pancakes aren’t doughy inside; add a tablespoon of soy milk to batter if necessary. The cinnamon, cloves, raisins, and flax seed add both flavor and nutritional power. The pinch of salt prevents a faint metallic taste.
These quantities make about five pancakes roughly 5 inches in diameter, which is right for two persons with relatively light appetites. I like tangy apricot-applesauce on top; my spouse likes the traditional syrup and [vegan] butter; we sometimes add fresh blueberries or sliced bananas.
(The Earth Balance firm claims that it no longer sources palm oil from Indonesia, so we went back to using it, sparingly. If anyone has further information on this, please let us know.)
--Gracia Fay Ellwood, firstname.lastname@example.org
Poetry: Reginald Heber, 1783-1826 and Faith L. Bowman, 1938-
Holy, holy, holy
Holy, holy, holy,
God of light and beauty,
Early in the morning my song shall rise to thee;
Mother-hen of mercy,
Wings of warmth and safety,
Late in the night my soul shall rest in thee.
All thy works are holy,
Even the atom bears thee;
Every gnat, each grain of sand enfolds infinity;
Matrix of things mighty,
Galaxies indwell thee:
Worlds crammed with heaven, each bush on fire with thee.
All thy creatures seek thee,
For the darkness hides thee;
Our distracted earthly eyes thy splendor cannot see;
Thou alone art holy,
There is none beside thee;
None satisfies our deepest thirst but thee.
Holy, holy, holy,
God of healing mercy,
Who will be thy messenger? and who will go for thee?
Holy, holy, holy,
God of blazing glory,
I give my all--lo, here am I, send me!
--This hymn is based on the prophet Isaiah’s vision in Isa. 6, and other biblical
passages. For a discussion of the image of God as chicken, see “Under Her Wings: The Pollomorphic God” by Carol J. Adams in PT 77 .
The Peaceable Table is a project of Quaker Animal Kinship, a non-profit organization, also known as the Animal Kinship Committee of Orange Grove Friends Meeting, Pasadena, California.
The journal is intended to be interactive; contributions, including illustrations, are invited for the next issue. Deadline for the November issue will be October 27. Send to email@example.com or 14 Krotona Hill, Ojai, CA 93023. Hard copy is available for interested persons who are not online. The latter are asked, if their funds permit, to donate $15 (USD) per year. Other donations are welcome. Send checks made out to Quaker Animal Kinship to Robert Ellwood, Treasurer, 14 Krotona Hill, Ojai, CA 93023. Thanks!
Issue copyright © 2016 Vegetarian Friends