Living in the footsteps of St Francis

Explore the transformative power of unconditional love and compassion through the lens of St. Francis, as shared in a touching story of healing and connection with animals.

In this lifetime, I have deeply loved Saint Francis and resonate with his teachings.

Throughout my childhood years only giving love, not receiving, became embedded within my essence.

There is love with expectations and without expectations. Pure love is unconditional, kind, compassionate, generous and nurturing. It is warm and forgiving, and given without expectations of reciprocation.
This love is agape: universal love. This is the love you feel for all living things without question, that you extend knowingly without expectations for anything in return. This is the love Saint Francis of Assisi held for the world. He is known for his ministry to the poor and underprivileged and for his care of nature and animals.

I wasn’t raised Catholic but I knew of Saint Francis through his love for the animals. I also hold a similar frequency of love for the pain and suffering animals endure. Growing up, I poured my love into animals to soothe the pain my father inflicted upon his family. I was a sensitive child who felt the agony and distress of each animal.

I remember watching “Little House on The Prairie” with my siblings at four years old. It was the episode where the farmer wanted to get rid of a litter of puppies, so he took an old sac and filled it to the top with the pups, tied it off with a rope and tossed the bag into the lake. The Ingalls children were watching in the brushes and when the farmer pulled away in his wagon, the children quickly dove into the waters pulling out the sack.

The children loosened the rope and pulled each puppy out of the bag one at a time rejoicing each was still alive. They got to the last puppy at the bottom of the bag and he wasn’t moving.

As a child watching this, I began to cry for that last puppy feeling such sadness in my heart and wondering how humans could toss away precious life. As the last puppy was being pulled out of the opening of the bag, the children quickly realized it was just a silly old log. My sister and brother hugged me and told me not to cry, but it felt so real in my heart. This story of how cruel humans treat one another remained with me.

As I grew older, I wanted to save every stray animal and take away their pain by showing them love and protection. Over the years, I have given a home to many strays but there was one who stood out to me.

It was one afternoon that I met my guardian angel next to my mailbox. I crossed my road to check my daily mail and saw a tiny kitten with her fur, dirty and matted. As I approached her, she wasn’t scared of me so I began talking to her asking where she came from. She looked into my face with her beautiful eyes, one blue and the other yellow. I noticed my neighbor coming out of her house. When she saw me standing next to the kitten, she yelled over, “That cat is blind and she was here yesterday going from house to house.”

I knew in that moment this kitten was very special, and I immediately scooped her into my arms and took her inside my house to bathe and give her nourishment.

As the warm running water washed away the soil from her frail body, her fur began to change to a beautiful snow-white color. I needed to name my brave little princess, and so she was called Ariel.

Archangel Ariel is known as the angel of nature. She oversees the protection and healing of animals and plants. Ariel would be my little angel. I scheduled her first vet visit with the intention of getting her vaccinations and a wellness exam. It was the morning of her doctor’s appointment, and I was excited for her to begin the road to recovery.

The technician came into our exam room and took her from my arms to do some blood work. She told me she would bring her back in a few minutes. Finally, our door opened and the technician was holding Ariel with a surprised face. She said to me, “I have something to tell you. Your kitten is 13 years old and she has thyroid issues.”

The tech told me I could keep her as an outside cat if I still chose to continue to care for her, but I chose to take my angel home to live the remainder of her days within a house of love and a family.

Over the next few months, Ariel grew healthier and stronger but it wasn’t long lasting because her kidneys were beginning to fail, and she was experiencing pain. Ten months later, I knew in my heart what I needed to do. It was time to say goodbye to her. I held Ariel and thanked her for helping me through a difficult time in my life.

I was also caring for a special needs son who had many health issues. We struggled each day, so feeling Ariel’s love got us through the moment. I buried her in my backyard and wrote her a letter:

My dearest Ariel, the day I found you outside I knew there was a special connection between you and me. The short time we spent together, I will always hold in my heart. Your spirit is so gentle and loving and when I felt that, I knew we were meant to be together. I loved you yesterday, I love you today, and I’ll love you tomorrow. Love your mom, always and forever.

Within my heart Ariel wrote me back:
Dear mom, you taught me how to feel loved again. I only wish I found you sooner. Thank you for caring about me so much and loving me because I love you too. All my love, Ariel.

Today I am not so sure I would still be in a body if it weren’t for that afternoon next to my mailbox when I was touched by an Angel.

Cindy Nevius Avatar

Additional resources

Related content