I read a story today about a mother orca who has been carrying her dead calf for four days, unwilling to leave her newborn baby behind. The calf died shortly after birth, and the grieving mother carries it around the Salish Sea.
"Grief and love don't belong to us, we share it with other animals." Anthropologist Barbara King writes about how animals grieve and shows that humans are no the only animals to experience love and grief.
The anthropocentrism of many forms of theism--I think that's part of what troubles me about the religion I grew up in. As humans, it makes sense that we will begin our stories with humans at the center. But we can't stay here.
If religion teaches us anything, it's that human animals can build patternful meaning based on our interactions with our surroundings. We can imagine the experience of others even as we experience the universe from our particular human center. We have imagined the words and forms of so many gods. We are capable of reaching out beyond the stories we build based on our initial sense perceptions.
The same imagination we use to take us outside of our immediate center toward gods can push us into everything. People have been writing stories about non-human animals that talk and grieve and remember and make meaning long before we had anthropologists to study the behavior of animals and tell us that grief isn't just a human trait.
We write these stories because we can imagine that the world is different than we presently conceive of it. And then, often, we find that it is (or that it can be).