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Divine Messengers of Miracles
By Allen Anderson, Linda Anderson
New World LibraryCopyright © 2007 William Allen Anderson and Linda C. Anderson
All rights reserved.
Discovering Your Spiritual Connection with All Life
Ask the sea gulls offshore The time of the tide. "We're leaving" they'll answer, "So, ask the waves!"
— Japanese Zen saying
Each morning, when we take the cover off our cockatiel's cage to welcome the day, Sunshine's first words to us are, "I love you, Sweet Baby." This bird has an extensive vocabulary of words, whistles, and songs. But he chooses to assure us that we're loved by our birds, by the universe, by God.
Spiritual connections are illuminated in many other ways by the angel animals in our home. If one of us was away, we always knew when the other would return because our dog, Taylor, would sit alertly at the window or door five minutes before the absent person's arrival. She was linked to us in ways that sometimes seem unfathomable. She reminded us that we are drawn together through invisible golden strands of mutual love.
Many people have written to us about how they have recognized the sacred connections between themselves and angel animals. Kathia Haug Thalmann from Pazzallo, Switzerland, wrote about her spiritual interaction with an insect.
Healing with a Dragonfly
So many times God has spoken to me about love through animals. I was sitting in a very powerful spiritual place outdoors and could feel this healing energy. I asked God to help me heal from an inner wound. In that instant, a beautiful dragonfly with golden wings landed in the palm of my open hand and stayed there for a long time. This immediately opened my heart to receive the healing. I cried tears of joy.
If you accept that your very essence is gently woven into the arch of a rainbow, the lap of a wave upon the shore, and the wagging of a puppy dog's tail, then you'll be filled with the spiritual virtue of abundance. You'll know that love and miracles are all around. If only you can recognize and accept them, you'll understand the message of angel animals and become aware of your spiritual lifelines to each other and to God.
"Throwaway" Kids and "Throwaway" Animals Found Each Other
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
A few years ago I taught emotionally disturbed teens in a group home. My students, all in crisis situations, could be there for a day, a week, or months. Many of them required our lockup facility so they wouldn't hurt themselves or others.
These very tough kids — some were prostitutes or drug users — often came directly from prison to my classroom. They were society's "throwaway" kids — youngsters without homes, street children bereft of families to love and care for them. They suffered from severe emotional problems. In the classroom I could see that their hearts were broken. They desperately needed to receive love but, more important, they needed to give it.
I found ways for my kids to help around the classroom and to tutor each other. Their self-worth grew as they gave of themselves. I always marveled at how, when offered the opportunity, they'd open their hearts and take pride in doing a job well. No one seemed to want or need them. Yet it was amazing show responsibly they'd act when they felt needed.
One summer a friend mentioned an idea that I thought would be a great program for my students. They could volunteer to help at our local animal shelter.
I called the director of the shelter and proposed that my kids offer their services. The director immediately liked the idea. Here was an opportunity for homeless, abused teens with broken hearts to meet homeless, abused animals with broken hearts. I never imagined how beneficial the relationships between these kindred spirits would be!
The plan was simple. We arranged that every Wednesday morning I'd bring over my little crew and they'd shovel waste, clean the runs, wash dog and cat bowls, and feed the animals.
But then came the risky part of the program.
After finishing their chores, the youngsters would earn the freedom to walk one of the dogs in the wooded area behind the shelter. Their walk together would be unsupervised.
Students often ran away from our group home. Yet here I was handing them the freedom and responsibility of walking from the shelter into a wooded area where I couldn't even see them.
Could they handle it? Would any of them run away?
The group home staff helped me work out standards students would need to meet each week if they were to go to the animal shelter. We all agreed that this was an unusual program, but everyone was willing to try it. The payoff could be wonderful, if it worked.
So, each week on Wednesday morning the staff and I carefully went over the list of students who had met the requirements. All week, students worked hard to curb their tempers, be cooperative, and get their schoolwork completed so they could have a morning with the animals.
Those who qualified were driven to the animal shelter for a morning of serving and loving something beyond themselves. At the shelter they saw animals who had been mistreated and abandoned. The kids quickly made the analogy that this place was a group home for animals, just as their group home housed kids who had been hurt and rejected. It was amazing to see how even the most hardened, tough kids understood the animals' loneliness and pain at not having a loving home of their own.
I emphasized to my students how much the animals needed their love and care. For some kids, it was a slow process and others took to the idea immediately. Soon, most of them were opening their hearts to the abused animals. They took pride in themselves and the kind of job they did because they knew the animals needed them. We focused on helping the students give of themselves. As they served the animals, the youngsters were transforming before our eyes. We watched them learning how to accept unconditional love from the dogs and cats.
I especially noticed the changes that were happening in my students one day when a very special rabbit was brought into the shelter while they worked. The kids were horrified at the sight of this poor creature. He'd been dipped into a barrel of oil and left unable to move. The little rabbit could barely breathe. He was completely soaked, his eyes painfully filled with oil.
Suddenly, even the most self-centered troublemakers among our group were consumed with concern for the rabbit. The kids asked a thousand questions and hovered around the staff members as they worked to save the animal. For the next week, they kept asking me to call to find out how the rabbit was doing.
Perhaps one of the sweetest examples of the miraculous growth that was occurring came to the surface when I'd pick out a very shy, withdrawn student and ask for his help. The shelter director would point out an animal who needed extra loving care. Then we'd ask the student if he'd spend time loving and helping the animal to trust people again.
Slowly, the youngster and animal would relate to each other. The student would timidly talk to the animal, encouraging him with toys and eventually brushing the animal or sitting beside him. We'd watch in amazement as, time and again, a withdrawn youngster and a scared animal would tenderly give each other comfort and warmth during their darkest times.
One of my most memorable experiences in this remarkable program involved Tim (not his real name). Tim, a teenager who had been in the home for several weeks, had a gentle face, but his family life and difficulties in school left him stubborn, extremely uncooperative, and negative. Yet, at the animal shelter Tim shone. He was caring and gentle. He did his tasks and seemed to have a natural ability for working with the animals.
Each Wednesday Tim earned the right to go to the shelter. Then I noticed that his cooperative ways with animals began to transfer to other areas of his life. Tim began to trust that no matter what he did, I'd never give up on him, and somehow he'd be able to bounce back from tough times. If he had a rough morning, he'd come back after lunch, put in a great afternoon, and wipe the slate clean, earning his way toward going to the shelter that week.
Tim was typical of students who began to respect themselves as they gave to the animals. They were feeling successful; they were starting to trust; and they were gaining that irreplaceable thrill of being needed and responsible.
These troubled kids saw that the animals were lonely and desperate for love and attention. For maybe the first time in their lives, someone said to them, "Can you help?" My kids learned that chores came first and then they could play, walk, and spend time with the animals. They learned to take pride in volunteering and this gave them a glimpse of good citizenship. Never before had they been considered contributing members of society. Yet these kids begged to volunteer at the shelter.
To heighten the learning value of the kids' visits, the shelter director came to our group home and talked about responsible pet ownership. She explained how to provide a loving environment for an animal. As the students heard what animals need for nurturing and growth, we hoped they'd begin to understand the principles of responsible care in a healthy home.
The director showed the students graphic pictures of animal abuse and neglect that touched even the young males, who had done time in prison and were proud of it. It wasn't unusual to see them quickly brush away tears. Later, they'd write in their daily journals for me to read about feelings that were too private and tender for them to express openly. The director's visits and their growing concern for the animals opened a small window for my kids to face the pain and shame they'd endured as survivors of abuse. Some students even did artwork for the shelter and wrote poems trying to express the animals' inner feelings and yearning for loving families.
In the three years we ran the program I marveled at how these homeless animals, carelessly thrown away, were beautiful souls who played such an important role in the lives of my kids. All the animals served to touch these young hearts, opening them to giving and receiving love.
As we had planned, my students walked the dogs, unsupervised, in the woods for up to a half hour. They could have easily escaped into the safety of the thick trees. I let the kids know I respected them and trusted that they'd bring back the animal in their care safely and on time.
Remarkably, I never lost a student or an animal.
The animals at this shelter and the students in my classroom showed me that when "throwaway" kids and "throwaway" animals give and receive love, they form relationships and families with each other that help them to survive. The world may not have needed my kids, but the animals sure did. These shining angel animals showed some very needy kids the way back home from heartbreak and abuse.
Could you reap the spiritual benefits of mending the heart or easing the pain of a "throwaway" animal or a "throwaway" kid?
The Dolphins Saved My Life
Anne Archer Butcher
Mooresville, North Carolina
It was Christmas vacation, and I went home for the holiday to visit my mother on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. I loved coming to the island. It renewed my sense of self and restored my health. Here I felt connected to my roots, nature, and the vast oceans. At the time of this visit, on Christmas Day, I had graduated from college and was teaching high school. I loved my work, but it was very demanding physically, emotionally, and mentally. The island was a sanctuary where I felt that the universe might actually hear my call for renewal.
I longed to just dive into the ocean and swim until I could swim no more. I wanted to vent my energies and relax totally. I was always a strong swimmer, and my family had called me a fish because I taught myself how to swim at age two. As a child, I'd swim long distances, staying in the water all day and loving every minute.
Around noon on this holiday, I went to the beach and walked alone on the warm sands along the water's edge. The sun was brilliant, but most people sitting on the beach probably thought that the water was too cool for swimming. Vacationers on this international island resort greeted me with a variety of accents as I gathered shells.
When I felt warm enough, I walked into the ocean waves and dove in. I swam hard and fast. Even when I felt tired, I continued. At last I rolled over on my back and looked toward the beach. I was amazed to be so far from the shore. The people on the beach were tiny specks, and a large expanse of ocean waves separated us.
This had been my family home for years, so I knew these waters well. My mind raced to warnings I'd received. The few sharks that had ever been sighted in this area were known to be attracted to shrimp boats, but none were in sight. Even though no one else was in the water, I didn't feel frightened.
I began my long swim back with strong strokes. I loved the smell of the fresh salt air. The water's temperature had become comfortable. I swam with total abandon until I again checked the shoreline. It was as if I'd barely moved. I could feel myself being pulled out to sea. Trying not to panic, I reminded myself that people watching me from the shore had probably seen how far I'd gone out.
Suddenly, I was frozen with fear because off to my left a dark fin moved directly toward me. My heart pounded wildly. I stopped swimming and attempted to float and bob in the water, stretching out like a log on the surface. I could barely breathe. I closed my eyes. I tried desperately to keep my mind from entertaining the horrors of being eaten by a shark. Suddenly, a powerful, smooth, sleek body rose underneath me.
I couldn't imagine what was happening. I felt my body being lifted slightly. While gliding across the water's surface, I was being moved toward the shore. Then slowly, gently, I was lowered back into the ocean. But immediately, I felt again the strange sensation of a powerful body rising up, then lifting and carrying me forward.
The surface of the water broke in front of me and I could finally see the creature who had been carrying me. It was a beautiful dolphin who jumped through the air, looked at me, dived to the left, and dipped under the water again. All the while, I was moved through the water at great speed as another of these wonderful animals carried me on his back. Soon, a school of dolphins was circling all around me. One at a time they moved beneath me, each lifting and gradually carrying me back toward shore as if they were performing an orchestrated dance or choreographed ballet.
After each dolphin took his turn carrying me, he then leaped in front and swam around to begin again. One to the left. One to the right. Quickly and smoothly, they brought me to chest-high water. Then they encircled me, spinning, diving, smiling. The dolphins called out in an amazing, high-pitched language that filled me with delight. I clapped in appreciation for the show they were providing. Touched and in awe, I couldn't stop talking to and thanking them. Eventually, they turned, said farewell, and danced out to sea.
By this time, a crowd of people had gathered on the shore. They'd seen the dark fin and anticipated a shark attack. After watching my incredible return on the backs of frolicking dolphins, they greeted me, laughing, talking, and asking about how the dolphins had rescued me. What a memorable moment! We were a group of people from all over the world who had somehow come together to witness something none of us would ever forget. It was a marvelous gift on this special Christmas Day.
The dolphins helped me relate to the blessings of nature as I had never before. I became more aware that all life is connected by a divine thread of love. Totally renewed in spirit, I felt confident that the universe supports me.
Note: Linda's father told us that in the U.S. Navy during World War II, many stories circulated about dolphins who saved sailors from drowning after their ships wrecked. The dolphins would carry the men back to shore and safety.
Is there someone in your life who has hit choppy waters or floated too far out and needs a ride on your back to make it to shore?
Excerpted from Angel Animals by Allen Anderson, Linda Anderson. Copyright © 2007 William Allen Anderson and Linda C. Anderson. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.
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