ANIMALS AS GUIDES FOR THE SOUL: Stories of Life-Changing Encounters by Susan Chernak McElroy

ANIMALS AS GUIDES FOR THE SOUL: Stories of Life-Changing Encounters

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KIRKUS REVIEW

McElroy (Animals as Teachers and Healers, not reviewed) celebrates ""the lessons learned at the four-footed threshold,"" where animals point to ""a particularly rich and rewarding track to personal awareness and to a more genuine and soul-filled life."" Here McElroy explores five stations on the shared path of animals and human spirituality, communication, service, forgiveness, and transformation--through stories (""When I had cancer, I learned quickly that stories were far more healing to me than statistics or information"") told by herself and ""other animal-oriented souls."" Pretty much from the get-go, McElroy's soul, ""the inner guardian of our lives,"" had spoken to her about her affinity to animals: ""Could I have chosen my passion, I would not have chosen animals . . . But I did not choose, I was chosen."" And so, on this note of surrender, she listens to animals closely, she observes their body language, she endeavors to tap their enchanting and graceful presence, to be on the lookout for signs and messages--using the ancient language of empathy and intuition--with which to create a shared world. Much of what she learns is straightforward: how animals teach humans about service (the sheep dog, the shepherd), how they live in the moment, are (almost) always ready to give a second chance to a malefactor, demonstrate dignity in death. She doesn't claim to know ""the inner life of an animal with any degree of certainty,"" but she stands squarely behind the validity of fantastical human-animal experiences, including the conversation an animal communicator had with an elephant, said pachyderm speaking at length on planetary transformation, the suffering of Mother Earth, and ""the bass note in the symphony of life."" Little new ground is turned--with the exception of that elephant. As a result, McElroy and her fellow testamentarians' souls can get wearying, as can the mild epiphanies that allow them to become ever worthier and more intimate with the animals.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0345424042
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Ballantine