copyright 2005 Teresa Wagner
all rights reserved
The day was exceptionally warm for early October on the waters off of Provincetown, Massachusetts. Sitting on the bow of the boat feeling warm, gentle breezes touch my skin and hair, I was delighted to need only a tee shirt and shorts to go whale watching in the Gulf of Maine in the Fall. I had been traveling here for many years to see humpbacks in both spring and fall weather. It was a first to have such warmth out on the water. Little did I know that soon I would be stunned by a bigger surprise, and offered one of the most important lessons of my life.
As we made our journey off shore to important humpback feeding grounds of Stellwagon Bank passing the long, sandy shoreline of the Provincetown peninsula, I was in great spirits. It was a long weekend off, I was in the company of good friends, and felt the joyful anticipation of soon seeing humpbacks—my family, my elders, my teachers and guides who I love beyond measure. I was content, full and excited. Suddenly I heard one of my friends standing at the railing say, "Oh God don't let Teresa see this." Everyone was moving to the side of the boat facing the shoreline. I felt a dread inside. I knew, I just knew something was wrong involving a whale. I moved to the side of the boat a saw the dead baby humpback lying on the beach, and the dorsal fins and spouts of two adults swimming nearby. My heart broke seeing the exquisite, young humpback body, out of her water element lying lifeless on the edge of land where she didn't belong. The on board scientist began to speak about the research that would be done to determine possible causes of this death. She cited statistics about collisions with boats and boat motors, entanglements with fishing nets, and toxins in the water poisoning as common causes of injury, disease and death of whales in this area and around the world. Listening, there was this wretched rip of grief in my heart that felt like fire. Though already well aware of many human caused deaths of whales, hearing it again while actually looking at this beautiful, dead whale child, consumed me with anger toward the humans who everyday directly and indirectly cause the death of whales for profit or science. I was angry. I was heartbroken and felt inconsolable.
I went to a far corner of the boat to be by myself, telling my friends I needed some quiet time alone. Just when I thought I might never overcome my struggle to come to peace, I heard a beloved familiar voice. "I am here to hold and support your heart, and to help you see how to better help the whales you love. You've taken a wrong turn here and I will help you find your way back. It's time for you to learn an extremely important lesson. One that will decrease your own pain of outrage and grief and also help the whale who has died and all those who love her." This was the voice of the first whale I ever saw in this life, a soul with whom I have a long and old history, who supports me as a father and wise guide. Sometimes I get lazy and don't listen or act on all the intuitive messages and help I receive. But when he speaks to me, I always, always listen. "I am going to help you channel the overwhelming, natural energy of your grief into powerful support for the one who has died, for her loved ones, those who may have harmed her, and yourself. This is what I want you to do:
Take a deep breath, steady yourself, and fill yourself with love. Get back in touch with that wellspring of love within you that you know is limitless and ever present. Allow your soul to support your broken heart. Fill your heart and every cell in your body and every space in your energy field with great love. Gently, completely. That's it. Remember the being of love that you are. From this centered place of your soul, which knows peace even in the midst of chaos and pain, remember this: you are never, ever helpless to shower someone in pain or suffering with great love, even when you cannot help on the physical plane.
Send this great love to the soul of the whale who has died. Send it with peacefulness, gentleness and calm, yet with great power and intention from the depth of your soul. Surround her soul with all the love of the universe. Thank her for having graced the earth with her presence. Ask for blessings for the journey of her soul through all time and space. Bow to her in awe and gratitude for all she was and is.
Send this same great love and also comfort to the loved ones of this whale. As much as you hurt, they are the primary grievers of this loss and hurt even more. It is important to tend to them before yourself. Surround them with great depths of love and the energy of soft, nurturing comfort and compassion. Let them know they are not alone in their grief. That you, too, care deeply about their great loss.
Send this same great love and deep compassion now to those you believe may have caused the death of this whale and others—those you see as the perpetrators. This is where you took a wrong turn earlier. You became stuck when you went directly to anger at those who caused the suffering, rather than going first to Love. Now, send the same limitless love to those known and unknown to you who created this death, to those who are not yet able to see and act from their hearts, to those who are not yet conscious enough to see the souls of animals. Send them love, for it is only with compassion and love that their consciousness will expand and their hearts will see. Send them compassion because at one time you, too, were not as conscious as you are today, and it was from the compassion of others that you grew.
Now, express and tend to your own grief and pain. Do what you need to do to express your own grief and anger. Honor your own feelings, however deep, dark, confusing or contradictory they may be. Ask for help from those you trust to understand, beings on earth and in Spirit, to help you fully express and release your pain. (Do not expect the one who died or her loved ones to support you. They are the primary grievers and need your support. You are a secondary griever and need support from others. There is always, always enough love and support for everyone. It is important to discern when to turn to whom.) Now is the time for you to take care of yourself, reaching out for help from your own soul and from earthly and spiritual beings who will understand. Your own heart and pain is as important as the whales' pain. Tend to yourself now with great compassion and love.
I followed his suggestions as he spoke them. None of what he said was entirely new to me. But I had never done these things in this order, in this type of situation. Remarkably, by the time I even completed the second step, my own anger and grief was tremendously lessened. By the time I got to the step of asking for and receiving help for my own heart, hardly any help was needed because I was so filled with the grace of meeting these souls with love. I still get angry with people who harm animals. I still grieve deeply when animals die. But now I consciously respond and process my feelings in a different way and in a different order. This allows me to better serve the animals I love so much, and allows my own suffering to move to quiet acceptance and peace much sooner.
When I see animals on the side of the road, obviously killed by a human's vehicle, I now use this process. I used to feel greatly overwhelmed by grief, and with anger at the speeding drivers and humans who allowed animal habitat to be turned into highways. Now, using this process, I no longer feel overwhelmed and alienated. I feel part of a process of healing for all. My level of compassion has matured. My ability to help has increased. I am very grateful.
The process is not about ignoring one's own grief. It's about dealing with it after first offering love and compassion to those directly impacted.
The process is not about pretending suffering does not exist, that people on earth do not harm animals, or condoning what they do. It's about showering those who create the suffering with Love rather than adding the energy of anger and hatred to souls already unconscious about animals.
The process is not about sending love instead of helping practically. It's about sending love in addition to any political action, rescue efforts, donations etc. in which we choose to get involved.
My whale father described it best: it's about channeling our overwhelming, natural energy of grief and anger in response to harm into powerful support for the actual animals who are harmed, for their loved ones, those who have caused the harm, and ourselves. It's about showering suffering with Love.
May all beings be at peace. May all beings be bathed in love and compassion.
To hear this message on audio MP3 or CD, including a guided, healing meditation to help you offer your love and skills to powerfully help animals in crisis situations, click here