A few days after I recorded the lovingkindness meditation in my previous blog post, this remarkable video came to my attention. I’d seen it before, and loved it, but I found it had become even more meaningful to me in the intervening years.
Why? Because the story dramatizes so effectively the last part of the meditation: “May all beings be free. May all beings be loved.” Watch it with that wish in your heart. I guarantee you will be moved.
The video (scroll down to see it) is an excerpt from ArgoFilm’s “The Urban Elephant,” a film produced for PBS’s Nature series. It documents how Shirley the elephant was released from a small zoo into an elephant sanctuary, and how she was reunited with her friend from 25 years before, Jenny.
The first part is about freedom and love. Solomon, Shirley’s zookeeper for 12 years, washes his old friend for the last time and removes her chains forever. He is deeply moved as he remarks, “I don’t know who was the first to put a chain on her, but I’m glad to know that I was the last to take it off. She’s free at last.”
Hearing that, we naturally recall the peroration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech:
When we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
The second part of the video is all about love. I can’t possibly describe it any better than Carol Buckley, who witnessed it first-hand:
[Shirley] reached over to touch Jenny’s mouth and what followed was undefinably powerful and life changing for all present. Looking straight into Jenny’s eyes, Shirley erupted into a huge baritone roar. Caught completely off guard, I thought a bomb and an earthquake had simultaneously hit the barn. Her bellows ignited Jenny’s bellows, which together literally shook the barn….The powerfully joyful vocalizations continued for some time, with Jenny and Shirley groping each other all over. I cannot convey how thick the love was in the air.
Please watch. I expect this will thaw the most frozen heart!
May all beings be free. May all beings be loved.