Elephants blessed, called symbols of hope

By Sarah E. Reynolds | Dec 09, 2013
Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds Rev. Kate Braestrup, left, lays a hand on Opal in blessing, as Hope Elephants founder and veterinarian Jim Laurita looks on Sunday, Dec. 8.

Hope — Hope Elephants invited Rev. Kate Braestrup to bless its elephants, Rosie and Opal, Sunday, Dec. 8.

Founder Jim Laurita welcomed the crowd, saying “Because we feel really blessed, we figured, why not bless the elephants?”

Braestrup, a Unitarian minister who is chaplain to the Maine Warden Service, spoke briefly about the appropriateness of the occasion.

“Elephants are … naturally sacred creatures.”

She said the animals have distinctively human characteristics: they are self-aware, they form strong bonds and communities and show empathy, three characteristics Braestrup said are, “the best we've got.”

Speaking about the role of elephants in religion, she noted that some Asian and African religions have elephant gods, including Ganesh, the Hindu elephant god, who is said to have been created out of the laughter of god. However, Judaism and Christianity hardly have any references to elephants, because their Semitic forbears lived in a place without them.

She spoke about the ecological peril facing elephants because of poaching, destruction of their habitat and global warming.

“It would be a tragedy if our children were only to know of elephants through zoos and picture books,” she said.

She ended on an upbeat note, and said Rose and Opal can teach those who meet them compassion for all creatures.

“If there are elephants in Hope, there is hope in elephants.”

She ended by laying hands on each elephant and saying a short prayer.

Rev. Kate Braestrup stands on a stump to speak to assembled visitors before blessing Rosie and Opal at Hope Elephants Sunday, Dec. 8. (Photo by: Sarah E. Reynolds)
Comments (3)
Posted by: Margaret McCrea | Dec 10, 2013 13:05

What a poignant statement:  “If there are elephants in Hope, there is hope in elephants.”  God bless Rosie and Opal and their extraordinary symbolism.



Posted by: Cheryl Roberts | Dec 09, 2013 16:59

Way to go, Katie!!!  It's a blessing in and of itself to be able to put your hands on an elephant. Thanks, Jim, for all your efforts for these beautiful and special creatures of God.



Posted by: Valerie Wass | Dec 09, 2013 11:19

A very AWESOME article!!!!!

 



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Sarah Reynolds
Sarah E. Reynolds is copy editor for the Courier Gazette and Camden Herald.
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Sarah E. Reynolds has been a reporter and writer for more than 20 years, winning awards from the Maine Press Association and other professional organizations. She loves to read, ride her ATV and play word games.

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