Teaching People Kindness and Compassion to Animals, Each Other and our Planet.
Teaching People Kindness and Compassion to Animals, Each Other and our Planet.

Resilience

If The Gentle Barn were called by any other name, it would be The Resilient Barn. That word describes the animals we rescue, the children we work with, and even describes our staff, our volunteers, Jay, and me. We have had to practice resilience after our beloved senior animals leave us. It is so hard to see them go, and it is difficult to lose our attachment to our physical relationships with them. When we say farewell to a loved one, we find our way from grief to gratitude quickly, and it never stops us from loving another animal or opening our hearts all over again. Jay and I have gone through loneliness, pain, abuse, and sorrow to overcome and arrive at where we are today, doing our work. We see ourselves time and time again in the animals we rescue. We bring them home and see the hopelessness in their eyes, and each time we resuscitate them, we heal a tiny part of ourselves at the same time.

This week we went walking in nature with a group of children from the inner city. In the projects in South Central Los Angeles, the children barely see trees. The place is covered in concrete and filled with noise, violence, broken homes, and poverty. When we bring the kids out to the hiking trails, and they get to see blue skies, trees, grass, color, open spaces, and infinite possibilities, they also find resilience in nature. Only a few short years ago, the mountains and hills were black and destroyed by a fire that ravaged the area. With a little time, rain, and sunshine, the fields have grown back, the trees have blossomed, life has returned, and you cannot even see the scars of the past. That’s what resilience is! We take the kids to the trails and talk about resilience in nature, resilience in our animals, and then we ask the kids for examples of resilience in their lives. The stories they tell are amazing! It is amazing to meet such little ones, who when they are at the barn with the animals they seem so young and innocent, and then after a few minutes of deep discussion, we realize that they too are carrying around pain and suffering and are practicing resilience every day. They talked about doing without, feeling unwanted, having regrets, embracing second chances, speaking up, trusting themselves, and having the patience for good things to come; such inspiring, strong, and resilient people!

I like to think that adopting a plant-based diet is resilient. We are all raised with lies: we need cow’s milk for strong bones, we need to eat animal protein to stay healthy, animals have no souls, or animals don’t care about their loved ones. These are all not true. When we can overcome the way we are raised, open our hearts to others, find out new information that is even better for animals, healthier for our bodies, more sustainable for the environment, and implement change, we are being resilient. It is this exact resilience when we awaken and act together as an evolved species that will save us all!

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