Rev. Austin Miles, a chaplain in Northern California is a writer and historian. He is the author of Santa's Surprising Origins, a story that received worldwide circulation and resulted in him being cast in the 2004 Hallmark Christmas Movie titled, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus. He played the mall Santa who magically received the gift of sign language.

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Society • Jesus and Animals Part 8: Wolf Occupiers-Personality of a Shrimp?

A gentle knock on the backdoor of the Oakley, California home sought attention. As the door was opened no one was visible until a glance downward discovered a wee little girl I had never seen before.

“Rev. Miles,” the little girl said sadly with tears in her eyes, “my pet fish just died.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry, this must be terrible for you.”
“Would you come and do a funeral for my fish?”
“Why of course. But first, go and ask your mommy if it is OK for me to come over, then if it’s OK, come and tell me and I will do a funeral for your fish.”

By the time the little girl got to her house, her mother had made funeral arrangements of her own, placing the body in that porceleam object where with a flick of the handle, the fish was immediately transported to that great pond in the sky.

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A Wedding on Horseback at Madison Square Garden Performed by Rev. Austin Miles in 1975.

While it can be amusing to think that anyone could love a little fish like that, it was to be discovered that such thinking could only come from someone who never knew a fish.

When my grandchildren wanted a pet, that pet would usually wind up at our house. They wanted a fish. An area pet shop sold little feeder fish for only 99 cents and were said to only live for about six weeks at the most, but a fish was picked out and brought home.

Coming home after a day’s work, it became noticeable that the fish would swim to the front of the bowl as if to greet me. I began to speak to it, then fixed a sandwich for myself and sprinkled fish food in the bowl and we had a snack together. During the day, as I came in, the fish again came to the front of the bowl to greet me.  I would fix a baloney sandwich and sprinkle food for the fish and sitting on the counter beside the fish bowl, we would have lunch and hang out together.

With love and good care that little feeder fish, which was only supposed to live about six weeks, lived for 2 1/2 years. One morning I came in and saw he was on his side. When I got near the bowl, he flipped upright and darted back and forth across the bowl, then stopped and would float on it’s side then flip back up. The little fish was fighting for its life.

When the fish died I was very upset, an emotion I never expected to feel. Getting to know that fish, making eye contact as it looked at me, discovering the personality it had, and being able to bond with it, made me exceedingly sorrowful at its death.

I have learned since that time that all creatures, even those that at first glance appear non-descript, do have feelings (as the little fish darted back and forth fighting for life) and they have distinct personalities (coming to greet me) that are delightufully discovered as one spends the time to get to know them.

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WOLF OCCUPATION: While the so-called Occupy Wall Street demonstrators are causing havoc all over the world, a truly significant “Occupation” will take place in Pasadena, California on Tuesday, November 8, 2011 gathering between 8 & 9 AM outside the Richard H. Chambers U.S. Court of Appeals to demonstrate support for legal efforts to protect wolves, the Constitution and our Country.

Supporters will rightfully challenge the constitutionality of the rider that removed Rocky Mountain wolves from the endngered species list and to halt the hunting of these magnificent animals. Shadowland Foundation is the organizer. All those concerned with this issue should be there.

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PERSONALITY OF A SHRIMP? The Journal, an excellent publication of Summit Ministries of Manitou Springs, Colorado, published a scientific story revealing that the most complex vision system known to science is that of…the shrimp! While most creatures have 3 colors in their eye receptors, the shrimp has a 12 color system with polorized filters for their eyes that is better than humans, so amazing that they work like a computer, sending out signals to other shrimp with communication that will not attract predators, and in attracting mates. Indeed the construction of DVD players and other devices came by study of the shrimp visual system. Yes, even the shrimp knows what it is doing, has contributed to science and has a personality.

Which means that we should respect all of God’s creation, do everything humanely and be conscious of the environment entrusted in our hands.

See Part 9: The Joy of Knowing an Elephant.

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