I suppose my mother had something to do with me loving animals. From the time I was five, she was bringing home creatures small enough to go undetected in our Brooklyn apartment: turtles, tortoises, and a half-moon parrot with whom I bonded so deeply that the memories of having to give him up (I had severe allergies) still fly at me like unwelcome shards of glass. I remember crying in the back seat of the car, my father double-parked with the engine running while my mother returned the bird to the pet shop. When she came back outside, she was holding a large tortoise, waving it at us, a permission seeking gesture for my father, who banged his hand on the steering wheel and yelled, "Goddamn it, Rhoda!" But we won. The tortoise came home with us.

The parrot story goes deeper than simple loss of an amusing companion (which is never simple, anyway). At the time, I was five and silently enduring molestation at the hands of my paternal grandfather. I won't delve into the psyche's way of insulating us from such memory as we plow through life, but I will profess mightily how the Universe graces us with love that outperforms the medicinal or therapeutic by bringing us winged, furry, and four-footed angels. The layers of divine love uniting a wounded child (or adult) and an always innocent animal is realm-of- God stuff, gauze for the soul.

So it was no accident that I have always lived with animals (dogs, lizards, birds) and that my mid-life metaphysical education brought me to recriprocation: as they were supreme healing agents for me, I chose to devote my practice to them. In the first ten years of my work I was reading tarot and doing psychic readings for people, and then I consciously shifted direction and clarified my purpose.

While I was guided by the command "find your bliss," other not-so-Godly reasons shaped my decision, and I don't apologize for them. People are a pain. They get sharp and cranky. Animals play and nestle. People are critical. Animals accept us. People become selfish. Animals remain selfless. People manipulate and calculate and restrict Animals just are. They love without condition and as they teach us, they heal us.

I trust that all the time I spend with my own and other people's animals intensifies the Divine spark that lives inside me as it does in all of us. People who love and care for their animals float just a little higher than the rest of the mundane world. What great company to keep and how blessed I am!

Author's Bio: 

Rev. Lisa Shaw, R.M.,has been an animal communcation specialist and Reiki Master for 20 years. She holds an M.F.A. in writing, a graduate certificate in Grief Counseling, and is currently completing a second M.A. in Pastoral Ministry. She teaches at Miami Dade College, where she has been awarded two endowed teaching chairs. She has authored various curriculum materials.