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Animals + Compassion

A Turkey Awakened My Soul

A real-life story from Beverly Warren, written by Frank Lane.

Each year I like to write a Thanksgiving story, but this year nothing came forth until I called my dear friend Beverly to wish her happy birthday and she ended up giving me a present! An extraordinary Thanksgiving story!

Beverly was visiting a friend on a farm in Tennessee. She was abruptly awakened at daybreak to a flock of Turkeys scuffling outside. Curious, she found her way into the farmyard after bundling up for the cold weather. In the overcast of the morning, she found what all the commotion was about; a female Turkey was in the process of dying.

As an animal lover and concern for all that suffer, Beverly inspected the failing bird to see if there was any comfort she could oblige in its apparent demise.

She later found out that a larger predatory bird had caused the eventual death of this Turkey but felt a responsibility to be with this suffering bird until its last breath. She stood close to give comfort as the turkey made her transition.

Completely unexpected, this turkey's friends somehow were called to gather in reverence of this bird's passing. Beverly watched her take her last breath and close her eyes, never to open again, at least in the body that was no more pulsing with blood.

Beverly felt the transition of life leaving its body and saw an amazing response from the flock. After the hen passed, other of the flock started to come together to form a line to show respect, one at a time. Each walked behind the other, stopping to look upon the fallen family member. She had never seen such reverence in animals as they were displaying. It was clear in her mind; she was witnessing a ritual to honor life and welcoming of death. She started to think, is this honoring of life true for all species?

It was apparent with the Turkey's self-organization, they were saying goodbye like a funeral march. Beverly and her friend buried her and felt compelled to say a farewell blessing. At this wake, Beverly told her friend, Carla about what she had experienced. Carla immediately understood that the flock valued life and was so moved she had an awakening that this Turkey's life is as important to her as any sentient life and made a proclamation never to allow anyone to kill Turkeys on her property again.

Carla started to feel remise by remembering a few years back when a relative talked her into hunting a wild turkey for Thanksgiving. They were only allowed to use a bow & arrow, so she experienced theviolent arrow plunging into the body of the unexpected bird. Carla’s family was there to watch the hunt.

As the Turkey laid convulsing until death on the ground, no one smiled. To their surprise, they all witnessed a flock of 20 or more Turkeys walking in a line past the dead turkey. They realized they had just witnessed a sacred ceremony to respect the passing of life, no different than our funerals. An honoring of reverence for this Turkey, each solemnly walked and acknowledged the body. It moved them to tears.

Beverly had witnessed another species reverence for life and joined in the sadness and morning this loss. She stood there watching as part of the bereavement and was struck that all living beings with, skin, feathers, scales or fur shares a sanctity for life. She was able to see this bird as having a family that mourned the loss of one of its flock. No different than her bereavement of her beloved departed. Most of us never see this sacredness, but for Beverly and Carla their consciousness was awake and transformed forever as a witness to this bereavement and homage to life.

May your thankfulness be in your awakening to the preciousness of for all life.

When we learn to be thankful beyond our pain and suffering, we awaken.

Jesus took on the suffering of the world and Buddha said life is suffering. Most spiritual teachers realize it is from our anguish that we can see God more clearly.

It is certainly an awakening when we can see our participation in the suffering of any sentient being.

This awakening is something we can all be thankful for.

Please feel free to share this story.


Frank Lane
Author,  - A Series of Life-Shifting Events

Read about the first Vegan Banquet in 125 years at the Parliament of World Religions: 


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