“Mom, come outside! There’s an ostrich running down County Road G!” My thought was that my daughter, Sarah, had a screw loose in her head, but she was adamant that I should come outside of the parsonage and look. Sure enough, she was right! Only it wasn’t an ostrich, it was an emu.
I have seen all sorts of wildlife at North Valley Lutheran, where I am the pastor, but this was really a first. Who would expect an emu to be walking down a county road in Wisconsin? Where could it have come from? I called out to the high school and talked to the ag teacher, Mrs. Alling, to see if she knew who owned emus in the area. She didn’t know. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to me that I should know that emu. Sure enough! I remembered where I had seen it when I was out visiting people.
I called the right telephone number. I asked if her emu was at home because if it wasn’t, it was walking down County Road G past the church heading into Milltown. Turns out, it was her 10 year old emu, Emma. She had somehow gotten loose.
Emma’s owner promptly came and tried to entice Emma with one of her favorite foods, strawberries, but Emma would not have any part of it. She continued on her journey. She was free. She was loose for many days, and she made it into the next township. The sheriff’s department got involved because Emma was a hazard on the roads. The plan was to use a taser on her and then capture her. Unfortunately, it was a fluke shot. The taser bullet went in-between her ribs, hit her heart, and she bled to death. Sad ending for Emma and sad for those who loved and cared for her.
Animals can bring so much joy, but when they die, they leave a big hole in our hearts. Here is a prayer for those who have lost pets or going through rough times with a beloved pet:
“Hear our prayers, O God, for our friends, the animals—especially for animals that are suffering; for all that are frightened or lost, or deserted or hungry; and for all those animals that must be put to death. We ask for them your providing care; for those who deal with them, we ask a heart of compassion, gentle hands, and kind words. Help us to be true friends to animals that through us they may know the blessing of the merciful; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord. Amen. (ELCA Pastoral Care book)