October 31, 2007
Pigs: "They Are Pure Joy"
How has an animal influenced your faith? Contributors to The Francis Files share their stories.
By Carrie Snider
I was an animal-lover long before I was a believer. As a young child, I dreamed of being a vet, a marine biologist, an animal trainer—anything to get me around animals. I gave up eating animals at age 4, and I gave up milk and eggs (because of the way cows and chickens are treated in the farming industry) at age 20. But it's my faith that brings me to animals in a soul-binding way. I now respect animals in a way that is neither patronizing nor exploitive, and I have my faith largely to thank.
Even as a vegan, I wondered what God had in store for the animals. The Old Testament clearly allows for some animal slaughter, even describing the methods most humane at the time, to render an animal unconscious as quickly as possible. Of course, when these rules were written down, the average person could not drive to a nearby grocery store and choose anything he or she wanted. We could not order veggie burgers. But even then, humane animal-raising and slaughter (perhaps the only kind options of the day) were in God's eye.
After working at a farm animal sanctuary for a year, I became very close to a special group of pigs. They lounge in the sun happily, run to greet me when I bring them avocado sandwiches or lettuce hearts. They are pure joy.
Of all the animals on the sanctuary, it is the pigs who have brought into my awareness how unconscionable it is to mistreat farm animals. After loving a pig, one can never sit down and eat one. My joy in the pigs often turns to pain. I venture out of my sanctuary bubble and encounter the dead remains of mistreated animals, including pigs, everywhere. It hurts, as it did at age four, when my mother told me the truth of where meat "comes from." It hurts to know that animals are killed merely for their taste and often in gruesome ways, with no thought to the kind of beings they are.
One night, emotions boiled over and I surrendered to tears. "Do You have a place for the animals?" I asked God. "Do You want more for them?"
As I continued a long, rambling prayer, asking for comfort, I was interrupted by a steady, quiet inner voice. "Let the children come to me," it said. I immediately saw an image: Jesus, arms outstretched, awaiting his children. Birds flew to his arms, geese waddled to his feet, and pigs lumbered up the hill, slowly yet joyful. It was then that I realized: these animals are just the sort of beings God begs us to be: joyful, accepting, forgiving, trusting, waiting excited for the next surprise.
Now, whenever I became overburdened with the horror imposed on farm animals, I remember those words, that image, and the happy piglets. They are (I can't doubt it!) among God's chosen people.
Posted Oct. 30, 2007
Do you have a story to share of how an animal has influenced your faith? Submit your story and we may share it our readers. The opinions of the authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of The Humane Society of the United States.