Our Vigil - Lambs and Sheep
Vegan Lifestyle Articles From All-Creatures.org
Vegan lifestyle articles that discuss ways of living in peace with humans,
animals, and the environment.
Joanna Lucas, Peaceful Prairie
[Note from All-Creatures.org: Please also read
"Hoofin It" with HSUS
AND Our Vigil - Bison
Our Vigil - Cows AND
Our Vigil - Pigs AND
Get To Hoofin It: Guess Who's Coming to Dinner]
RESTORING THE MEANING OF 'RESPECT'
is a vigil for the billions of individuals whose lives are shattered for the
palate pleasure and amusement of consumers whose taste for animal suffering
trumps justice and compassion. It is a protest, a rejection of, and a
necessary remedy for, the mockery that animal welfare advocates,
"conscientious" consumers, and "humane" farmers have made of the word
'respect'. It is a direct response to "RESPECT YOUR DINNER", an HSUS
sponsored event where participants are invited to experience the superior
taste and texture of "humanely" enslaved, and "respectfully" murdered
As participants will be "Hoofin it" around Denver for four consecutive
days, savoring the burned remains of a different animal each day—a bison, a
pig, a lamb, a calf—we will stand in solidarity, in sympathy, in outrage,
and in deep sorrow with the animals whose lives, hearts, minds, memories,
languages, and unique identities will have been obliterated into the
ugliness of meat.
Join us in opposing the elitist notion that other animals exist for human
use. Join us in celebrating the mind, the heart, the mystery that each
sentient being brings to the world. Joins us in restoring the true meaning,
practice, and moral significance of word 'Respect'.
Live vegan and educate others about the vegan imperative.
WE KNOW HER INTIMATELY, THE LAMB WHOSE FLESH WILL HAVE BEEN SERVED AT MONDAY
NIGHT'S "HOOFIN IT" DINNER.
WE KNOW THINGS ABOUT HER THAT NO ONE SHOULD EVER KNOW, OR WANT TO KNOW,
ABOUT A FELLOW BEING—THE SIGHT OF HER FLAYED BODY, THE WEIGHT OF HER SEVERED
THIGH, THE TASTE OF HER BURNED, BONE-PUNCTURED FLESH, THE CHARRED CRUNCH OF
HER FRACTURED RIBS, THE FLAVOR OF HER SPILLED MARROW, THE TASTE, TEXTURE AND
FLAVOR OF EVERY ASPECT OF HER DESPAIR, DEGRADATION AND DEFEAT.
WE KNOW EVERY DETAIL OF WHAT WE HAVE FORCED HER TO BE—AN OBJECT TO CONSUME
AND EXCRETE. WHAT WE DON'T KNOW, WHAT WE DON'T WANT TO KNOW, IS WHAT WE MUST
KNOW IF WE ARE TO RESTORE OUR OWN HUMANITY: WHO SHE IS.
IN THE TRUE SPIRIT OF RESPECT—A WORD WHOSE ROOT MEANS TO 'LOOK BACK AT
ONE'—WE INVITE YOU TO LOOK AT BEINGS LIKE HER WITH THE MORAL COURAGE AND
INTELLECTUAL INTEGRITY TO ACTUALLY SEE THEM.
MEET MARCIE, A BLIND EWE WHO WAS RESCUED FROM A FAMILY FARM SIMILAR TO THE
"HUMANE" FARM FEATURED AT TONIGHT'S "RESPECT YOUR DINNER" EVENT. LIKE THE
BEREFT MOTHERS WHOSE BABIES WILL HAVE BEEN KILLED AND SERVED AT TONIGHT'S
DINNER, MARCIE'S ONLY EXPERIENCE OF MOTHERHOOD WAS ONE OF BEREAVEMENT.
UNLIKE THEM, SHE HAD THE FREEDOM, THE RESPECT, AND THE AMPLE TIME TO FIND A
MEASURE OF SOLACE.
When Marcie arrived at Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary, she had already lost
everything—her freedom, her community, her family, her youth, every baby she
had ever had, everyone she had ever loved, everyone she had ever trusted,
everything that was familiar.
She arrived in this new world with nothing except, for the brief time before
she went blind, the ability to see with her own eyes this improbable land of
open vistas, big sky, free inhabitants, and people who wished them life,
this Free State that billions of captive animals never experience, but that
all yearn for to their last breath. And perhaps to believe it.
Like all farmed animals, Marcie was defined not by what was there, but by
what was missing—the visible and invisible amputations of a lifetime of
slavery—mutilated body, broken spirit, wounded soul, stunted life,
unfulfilled potential, her measure of pain filled to the brim, her measure
of joy left utterly empty. In her years of confinement on a small family
farm, where she repeatedly watched her babies being killed, so much had
already been taken from her that, by the time she was rescued and brought to
a place where she could finally begin her life, there wasn't much left to
build a life on.
Her first year at the sanctuary, when she could still see, she fled from
anyone who looked like her abusers—any human being—and, for the rest of her
life, she avoided anyone who looked like herself—every ewe, ram, or lamb at
the sanctuary. She "hid" her big, beautiful, billowy self among the goats,
dawdling along, so conspicuously ovine amid the gust of quick, slender,
angular, light-footed goats, yet so secure in the belief that she was well
camouflaged among these creatures who looked, walked, sounded, and acted
nothing like herself. She traveled with them, foraged with them, camped with
them, ignored the fact that, to everybody's mind but her own, they were a
poor fit for her—too fast, too rowdy, too mischievous, too bold, too
unpredictable—and forgave them their many trespasses, such as the times when
they left her behind, way out in the field, ignored her calls for location,
and went home without her. But, for reasons she well understood, she
remained unflinchingly loyal to them for the rest of her life.
Whatever Marcie saw in the goats, learned from them, received from them, was
clearly something she needed. We joked that she thought she was a goat. But,
more likely, the opposite was true: what seemed to draw her to the goats was
not the imagined similarity, but the perceived difference. She seemed to
want to be someone completely unlike herself, a different animal altogether,
someone totally unlike the powerless victim she had been all her life.
So she joined the goats, and shared her deepest moments of peace with them.
You could see her, and them, resting in the sun, in a trance-like, almost
solemn state, as though listening together to a magnificent symphony and, in
fact, doing just that: "hearing the leaves of spring, the rustle of insect
wings, the wind darting over the face of the pond", and savoring the scent
of the wind itself, feeling beauty, being absorbed by beauty—not what we
call beauty, not the pretty things, but what is beauty: the knowledge
inherent in all things, in a stone, a leaf, a blade of grass, the profound
experience of harmony and connection with something deeply good, and deeply
loving, the felt wisdom of being alive in a world of scent, and taste, and
sound, and touch, with nerve endings responding in delight to every breeze,
every faint happening, every detail in the world's face of dazzling color,
and rolling movement, and depth.
Those moments—full of feeling, brimming with exquisite awareness, giddy with
the life within—she shared with the goats. But, in her moments of sorrow,
she was alone. And she had moments of wrenching, inconsolable sorrow, some
triggered by invisible quakes, others triggered by events that even we could
see and understand, such as the times when the smell of lambs born, torn
from their mothers, and slaughtered on neighboring farms filled the air and
stirred her old pain, a pain that didn't lessen with time, but seemed to
grow new thorns every spring.
Those were the times when she wandered off most often, becoming separated
from her adopted herd, getting lost and, in her blindness, unable to find
her way home. Because human presence terrified her, the only way we could
guide her back home was to call out to the goats hoping that they would
respond loud enough for Marcie to hear and follow the sound trail back to
the herd. The goats, she trusted, but humans evoked nothing but horror—the
horror she remembered, and the horror she anticipated at our hands.
We understood her apprehension, and went out of our way to not intrude in
her safe zone. What we didn't understand then, and still don't fully
understand today, is why she chose to narrow the physical and emotional
distance between us, and got one inch closer to us every day until there was
no distance left at all, until our noses touched, literally.
She got nothing extra from our proximity. Nothing that she didn't already
get in abundance while avoiding us—food, shelter, friends, treats were all
readily available to her whether or not she accepted us. So why did she
decide to trust us when, throughout her life, humans had done unspeakably
cruel things to her for a taste of her babies' flesh, for a handful of wool,
for a patch of lamb skin? Why did she suffer us, when she could just as
easily ignore us?
It's hard to say. But the fact is, she not only accepted us, she sought us
out. If, in her estimation, we had been inside the house too long, she
knocked on the door with her hoof and summoned us out. We came out every
time, treat in hand—because that's what we assumed she wanted. And, for the
rest of her life, she "drilled" us out on the porch this way several times a
day. Then, her last year with us, she extended her vigils into the night.
She started to wait up for Chris, stationing herself on the porch, waiting
quietly, patiently, as long as it took—until midnight, until the following
morning, until Chris was safely home from work.
She waited without complaining, without asking for treats, or attention, or
companionship, or any of the pleasures that we thought motivated her to
knock on the door day after day. She just anchored herself at the front
door, and kept her late night, solitary, vigils away from the security of
the herd, away from shelter, under the open sky. And nothing could get her
to move—neither Bluto's boisterous barking, nor the alarming distance from
her goats, nor the rain, nor the thunder, nor the snow. She stood there like
a good mother, wedged between earth and sky, with a mixture of courage,
trust, expectation, hope, and resignation, her massive body firmly anchored
between the big, bad, perilous world and her self appointed charge, and she
didn't budge until Chris was safely home. Only then would she finally get
up, leave the porch, and amble to her barn for the night, with the treat of
solid proof that both of us were alive and well.
It wasn't a "plan". It was a far simpler, far wiser, far more deeply felt
truth than that. Marcie wished us life. She wanted for those she loved to
continue to live, and she was determined that, for once in her life, they
would. She demanded treat-in-hand proof of our wellness several times every
day, and she guarded the porch at night until she was sure that both of her
humans were alive and well. It was simple enough. Most of us can understand
love. What most of us may never understand is how Marcie could forgive her
abusers so completely that she was able to love their kin.
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