Gecko keepers have been known to discuss endlessly their many reasons for becoming involved in their hobby: intellectual curiosity, enjoyment of breeding and genetics, economic pursuits, among other reasons.  This issue of Gecko Time addresses another aspect of caring for geckos that is rarely spoken about openly.

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Who I Am

I am the sole owner and care giver of Adirondack Gecko’s, based in the mountains of the Adirondacks. My name is Kathy Henderson. I love life, and I love all creation. My respect for all creatures has always been a part of life since I can remember. The love I felt for any animal, be it one with feathers, fur or scales was so strong I needed to do something with it.

I am in an Order of Franciscans, which is an order of St. Francis. He is known as the patron saint of animals and the environment. So, here I am now, after 4 years of study, praying and walking the earth as St. Francis did. I am now called Sister Kathy.

My Calling

I have intertwined my spiritual calling with that of all animals. The spiritual part started from working at a veterinary hospital. I found my “calling” into the spiritual world as a Franciscan while working at the animal hospital and finding myself praying with families as their loved pets were dying or being euthanized. I felt such adoration for animals and the true Creator and Master, and indeed felt God’s presence at each “crossing over” of each animal.

Quite Times and Geckos

During my transition into the order, one of the order rules was to have quiet times and meditations during the day. I am not one to sit still for very long and found this rule was one of the hardest for me. I needed something to do that didn’t require my vocal attention, but needed my mental attention for long periods at a time. Staring into an empty 60 gallon fish tank while doing my quiet time, my mind started turning. That night I acquired 4 books about leopard geckos and their care. The next day I bought everything I needed for my new family members; two days later I had my first pair of leopard geckos. My meditation then and now still consists of sitting in front of that now filled glass tank, doing my quiet time, and watching those remarkable little creatures. I found peace and awe in the details of their social lives, structure, and beauty. I found my other calling….leos!

My View

I have been asked numerous times about my view on pets and spirituality. Do they go to heaven? Do they have souls? Yes, I do believe they go to heaven and yes, to get to heaven you have to have a soul. I find comfort in knowing that they are there.

I was told as a very young child, “you never own an animal, you only borrow it till its true Master calls it home , so you must take very good care of it for Him”.

Today, in this world, it seems many have lost their way and their identities as spiritual beings. They have transferred their priorities that they traditionally placed on nature to their own accomplishments . Many are unaware of their connection to their relationship with nature, and instead are focused upon superficial and a material world. Many have lost sight of the fact that they are all a part of the world of nature and the Creator , which is responsible for the whole of life, and all living creatures.

Sharing the Joy of Geckos

I recently had my parents come and live with me. My mother suffers seizures, is in a wheelchair, and is deeply depressed. My dad is totally blind, has heart disease and is now dying of cancer.

These little geckos have brought much laughter to the both of them. To see my mother smile is something rarely seen but when she has a gecko on her shoulder or watches with me as a hatchling makes its way out of an egg, she transforms into the mother I remembered years ago.

My dad asks every single day if I would bring him a gecko to hold. To see someone who is dying smile because of the joy of holding a 60-gram gecko shows how much love has been put into their creation.

They help my parents emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically….wow.

My family of leos puts me deeply in touch and helps me attain: “Living in the moment.” That’s what they do, a moment in which spirit can be most easily accessed. Just look into their eyes and not find life a miracle, I dare you. Celebrating life with my leos has become a way of life for me.

Final Word

If I could mimic the same faithfulness and acceptance in my relationships that I experience with my leos, then I am a better person for it. If the only thing that changed is how I live my life today, the joy of companionship and friendship, living more in the moment as it happens, then that’s enough for me.

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Sister Kathryn FrancesVisit Website

Sister Kathryn Frances Henderson was born in NJ and has lived in the Adirondacks since 1972 surrounded by pines, ciders and fresh air. She is a two year student of animal science and another year of Animal care specialist. Sister Kathy runs a small rescue for orphan kittens called Paws and Claws for Feline Orphan Rescue. As of last week she has reared and bottle fed 106 kittens in 5 years. She also finds homes for these babies and works with the local SPCA's doing rescue and placement work.  She has been self employed for the last 34 years as a private postal contractor and truck driver (full time). For the past 7 years she has been a part-time administrative assistant at St. John's Episcopal Church and has also worked part time for the last 8 years in animal medicine.

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