Elephants blessed, called symbols of hope
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.