A Sentience Article from All-Creatures.org

A Turkey Awakened My Soul

From Frank Lane, UnitedVegan.com
July 2022

It was apparent that the Turkeys were saying goodbye, like a funeral march

dying Turkey Hen

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 having concern for all who suffer, Beverly inspected the failing bird to see if there was any comfort she could oblige in the 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 the last breath.

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 leaxt in the body that was no more pulsing with blood.

Beverly felt the transition of life leaving her 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.

Turkey funeral

Each walked behind the other, stopping to look upon the fallen family member. Beverly 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 remorse 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 and arrow, so she experienced the violent 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 witnessed a flock of 20 or more Turkeys walking in a line past the dead Turkey.

Turkey funeral

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 mourning this loss. She stood there watching as part of the bereavement and was struck that all living beings with skin, feathers, scales or fur share 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 consciouosness was awaken and transformed forever as a witness to this bereavement and homage to life.

May your thankfulness be in your awakening to the preciousness of 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.

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