The Rev. Gary Kowalski is a graduate of Harvard College and the Harvard Divinity School and the author of The Souls of Animals and other books on spirituality, nature, history, and science. He has served Unitarian congregations in Vermont, New Mexico, Washington, and Massachusetts. Visit his website at

Kowalski has dedicated this paperback to Smokey, his "obstreperous Shepherd/Chow mix" who died in 2010. In this collection of stories and animal encounters, the author pays tribute to the many ways in which these creatures brighten our lives, heal and transform us, and serve as our spiritual teachers.

Kowalski points out the close connections many saints had with animals — St. Ambrose and bees, St. Hubert and his stag, St Hugh and his swan, and others. They model for us the respect that is due all God's creations. On a visit to see snow geese gathering, he tells how these birds share leadership, work together, and encourage each other. Kowalski writes creatively about ants, his response to 23 primates that died in a fire, the voracious appetite of spiders for insects, the role of animals in the Christmas story, and how Charles Darwin was charmed by worms. He salutes honeybees and their struggle to stay alive.

Like Rachel Carson, Kowalski is wonder-struck by the mystery of animals and the beauty they possess in their own unique ways. He affirms Native Americans who speak of all living beings as kin. Kowalski ends on a spiritual note with his observations on the New York's Cathedral of St. John the Divine's Blessing of the Animals ritual; he notes the miraculous ways in which some animals make excellent chaplains. It is always a pleasure to read the writings of this Unitarian whose spiritual practice of reverence towards all animals is so exemplary and inspiring!