Posted on Jan 11, 2018
Jay and I traveled to Tennessee this week to visit our second location, support Andrea and her staff, and spend time with the animals. We were thrilled to find everyone happy, healthy, and well cared for. With freezing temperatures, we were worried about the animals' comfort, but the horses, cows, and pigs were a perfect weight and had long, thick coats. The chickens and turkeys had heated houses with warm, fluffy bedding. Everyone looked great! It was wonderful to see all the volunteers and guests on our open to the public Sunday. The animals have really turned into incredible ambassadors and are making Dudley and all of us proud. I also got to cuddle with Adeline and see how happy she is.
It was a wonderful week, and I’m so glad that we went! Every part of it was amazing, but seeing one particular family stands out for me. When they heard that Jay and I would be in town, they woke up the next day at four in the morning, piled their family in the car, and drove five hours from Ohio to Knoxville, arriving just in time for our opening. We had met them before at Dudley’s memorial, and it was so nice to see them again! It’s the husband’s story that keeps rolling around in my mind, filling me with hope, and flooding me with inspiration.
Chris was a hunter as everyone in his town was and as he was raised to be. He didn’t think much of it; everyone did it. His wife, Becky became vegetarian for her love of animals and started cooking that way in their home. He ate the food out of respect for his wife, but it wasn’t until he met Dudley in person that he made a connection for himself.
A year ago, Chris drove out to The Gentle Barn for the first time to accompany Becky. When he met Dudley, he was struck by his wisdom and grace. He saw his intelligence and affection. He saw him as a being and not an object. All of a sudden he saw himself and his relationship with animals as different than ever before. His heart opened wide, and he felt connected personally to every living creature for the very first time. He knew at that moment he could never hurt Dudley or any other animal again.
That day Chris asked Dudley for his forgiveness and promised him to help open other people’s eyes and hearts too. Chris, Becky and their five children are all vegan now, strong in their convictions, shining their light wherever they go, and proving that everyone can change!
After meeting Chris and his family, and so many others that have awoken to love, I fully believe that anyone can change, with the right circumstances, no matter where they are coming from. It is so important that we approach everyone with gentleness, having compassion for when we didn’t know, and allow the people in our lives to evolve at their own pace, without feeling judged or guilty. This is such an exciting time to be alive! This is the time of reawakening to the love inside of ourselves and our connections to every living being that shares this planet with us. We are getting there, one person at a time, to love, kindness, and gentleness. When I ever get discouraged or lose my way, I’m going to think of Chris and his family and how Dudley changed them forever.