And what About the Animals?

On Wednesday evening, I attended a salon in which we discussed climate change and the current ecological crisis. During the Q&A, J_____ burst out with great concern for the animals: “What about the animals? What is happening to them? Where will they go? How can we help them?” Clearly in great distress, she piled question upon question. So great was her concern that, at one point, she could barely speak.

So tonight I offer this meditation, this prayer for all the animals, great and small, ranging over the whole earth and in every inch of soil, those living with us today and those yet to be born.

The music is by J.S. Bach, and is considered by some to be the high point of western European music. It transcends all petty religious divisions, perhaps all divisions, for it speaks not just to the religious heart, but to the very heart of what it means to be human. Even a staunch atheist could not but join in this universal cry.

“Music opens a path into the realm of silence.” – Josef Pieper

One YouTube listener made this comment: Her voice projects the result of deep contemplation with a strong gravity of intense, deep anguish that signifies not only the mortality of the individual but our mortality and inevitable downfall due to our unavoidable ignorance.

So this is for J____ and for the all the animals. As you listen, mediate on the beauty and suffering of animals. Contemplate their fate, for we are one with them.


German: Erbarme dich, mein Gott, um meiner Zähren willen! Schaue hier, Herz und Auge weint vor dir bitterlich. Erbarme dich, mein Gott.

English: Have mercy, my God, for the sake of my tears! See here, before you heart and eyes weep bitterly. Have mercy, my God.

From J.S. Bach, St. Matthew’s Passion, “Erbarme dich.” Sung by Julia Hamari. The violin part is one of the most moving violin parts in all of music.

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