One of the greatest pleasures about being a writer is that you make lasting friendships with some of your readers. Out in Chino Valley, Arizona, a man named Wynne Zaugg read the four novels of my Booker Series that are set in the Southwest, and he began to recommend them as “reading for the soul” in his Hacienda de los Milagros (Home of Miracles) newsletter. When I saw my first copy of the newsletter, Wynne was offering a money-back guarantee if people read any of the Booker novels and were not moved by them. What support from a stranger! We had to find out more about him.
Hacienda de los Milagros is a non-profit teaching and healing animal sanctuary accredited by the American Sanctuary Association. Basically, Wynne and his board members rescue burros, horses, mules, and hinnies from desperate circumstances and provide lifetime care for them that includes veterinary medical needs, feeding, grooming, and deep affection. A list of current residents will include about 100 burros, around 25 horses, and a handful of mules and hinnies.
When wild burros were dying during a severe drought in Death Valley, Wynne organized a caravan of equine trailers to rescue them. Some were so stressed that they did not survive, but many were relocated to Chino Valley and nursed back to health. Some of those burros were pregnant. Wynne asks each animal to “tell” him their name and their “story,” and when you walk with him in a large corral among a hundred burros, he can name each one.
Although my wife Pat and I live in North Carolina, our keen interest in Hacienda de los Milagros caused us to travel in December 2006 to Arizona to meet Wynne Zaugg and the animals at the sanctuary. Every day that we were there, we entered without fear a large corral where nearly 100 burros roamed. Soon we were surrounded by animals who wanted nothing more than to give and receive affection. The emotional impact of those primal gifts is never to be forgotten.
Wynne Zaugg and his supporters are honoring and preserving life itself one beautiful creature at a time. These are acts worthy of St. Francis in the serving of our common soul. But at Hacienda de los Milagros the heart’s generosity has sometimes exceeded the limits of stables and corrals. The cycle of life there demands pure dedication for the feeding, grooming, and the veterinary care that is required. All this necessitates dawn to dusk service to the rescued animals.
If you can visit Hacienda de los Milagros and are nuzzled by the burros and horses, the animals themselves will affirm the wonder of their keeping. If you wish to affirm your own humanity and your respect for the four leggeds who co-habit our planet, your volunteer efforts and your financial support of the House of Miracles will be fulfilling. Some people who interact with the burros and horses at HDLM have profound communications with them. Over the last 12 years these “messages” have been collected in a book soon to be available. For more about HDLM, visit their website http://www.hdlmsanctuary.org/.
So much from God
That I can no longer
A Christian, a Hindu, a Muslim,
A Buddhist, a Jew
The Truth has shared so much of Itself
That I can no longer call myself
A man, a woman, an angel
Or even pure
Befriended Hafiz so completely
It has turned to ash
Of every concept and image
My mind has ever known.