The Holy Howl



My brother died last April and in May my sister and I received an unexpected invitation from his neighbor to accompany him to Wolf Haven.  The unspoken intent was to pay tribute to George.  This poem emerged from my longing for connection.  I often encounter those who have passed in various ways.  This was by far the most powerful.


The Holy Howl
(for Martha)

On May eighteenth
before spring had taken hold,
we encountered the freshly transitioned spirit of our brother
in the haunting howl of twelve wolves
at Wolf Haven Sanctuary.
Once abused, abandoned or old,
now they pace, paw and hunt safely with a new pack.

George had loved these wolves
because they were the ancestors
of his beloved Siberian Husky Zane.photostudio_1569422446543
A self-designated member of Zane’s pack,
George would wrestle on the floor with Zane
and howl “JingleBells” in unison with the Husky.
We came to Wolf Haven to honor our brother.

We ambled in a tight circle
pausing at each of the six enclosures
to meet the pacing pair that called it home
and to hear the story of their journey to Wolf Haven.

Arriving back at the entrance we stopped
to listen to the guide’s closing remarks.
Eerily silent throughout the tour, now
a lone wolf lifted its head and let lose
a magnificent primal howl,
stopping the guide in mid-sentence.
An expectant silence ensued,
shattered soon by a raucous chorus
as the whole pack joined in.
They split the mythical veil
that separates here from hereafter.

We met our brother in the holy howl.
Rest in peace, George.

© Rita H Kowats 9-23-19


Wolf Photo Credit:

4 thoughts on “The Holy Howl

  1. Wow, incredible tribute and sounds like an unforgettable experience! It brought to mind a passage from a devotional this week:

    “The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh tells a beautiful story about an experience he had following his mother’s death which makes this point very powerfully:

    The day my mother died I wrote in my journal, “A serious misfortune in my life has arrived.” I suffered for more than one year after the passing away of my mother. But one night in the highlands of Vietnam, I was sleeping in the hut of my hermitage. I dreamed of my mother. I saw myself sitting with her, and we were having a wonderful talk. She looked young and beautiful, her hair flowing down. It was so pleasant to sit there and talk with her as if she had never died. When I woke up it was about two in the morning, and I felt very strongly that I had never lost my mother. The impression that my mother was still with me was very clear. I understood then that the idea of having lost my mother was just an idea. It was obvious in that moment that my mother is always alive in me. [1]

    This kind of mutual interdependence I sense to be true. We live in and through one another. We become ourselves only in and through a process of mutual inter-becoming. It all began in God’s own creative, self-giving love. Much deeper than the inevitability of my [physically] resembling my earthly mother is the reality of my core identity, the core identity of all who bear the same family resemblance, a unique but related face of compassion—the same divine Love has birthed us all. God will never be dead as long as we’re alive. [2]”

    On Wed, Sep 25, 2019 at 8:58 AM Spirituality Without Borders: Reflections

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Rita,

    What a wonderful way of remembering George.

    Your words speak volumes and thank you for being our current day Dominic mystic.

    Hoping to have hip surgery in October sometime after 10/9.

    Let’s keep in touch.

    Mary Pat


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