The Pigs and Simon

Flowers on the cauldron surround

I was familiar with the stories of the Pig Barn.  How the pigs had been slaughtered there, the cauldron in the corner used to scald them, and how their cries could be heard throughout the town.   But I never really believed it.  Everything I’ve read and heard about the use of pig barns was different.  Traditionally a pig barn has a walkway down the middle with the pig pens on either side.  There’s a side door for ventilation and  a penned in outdoor area.  The cauldron or set kettle is used to cook up the mash for the pigs to eat.

So when I decided to make the pig barn into a gallery, I didn’t think much about the pigs who once lived and perhaps died there.  But as the opening of the Pig Barn Gallery got closer, I started to get nervous.   Then the nervousness turned to a fear that seemed out of proportion to the prospect of an art exhibit.  At the same time Jon and I were deciding whether or not to adopt a donkey that had been neglected by it’s owner and was near death.

In seeking help for my fear, I came to realize that the idea of the pigs being slaughtered on the farm, whether it was done humanely or not, and seeing Simon, the donkey, and how much he seemed to be suffering, was  disturbing to me in a way that I had not acknowledged.

I was not being honest with myself about how upsetting it really was.  I found myself making excuses to avoid my feelings.  I denied the slaughter of the pigs.  I told myself that people and animals die all the time, and maybe it would be best if we put Simon down.    He seemed to have suffered  so much and  looking at him brought up emotions in me I was afraid to deal with.  I just wanted him and the dead pigs to go away.

I came to see that in the past I had closed off a part of myself  to avoid these feelings, and with this realization I found that part of myself which I had lost a long time ago.    Before I faced my fears,  I wasn’t sure if I was capable of taking care of Simon and was afraid of such a daunting responsibility.  Now I trust myself to be able to  do what’s best for him and to know that  it’s okay to feel sad for the pigs who died so long ago.

So I’m grateful to Simon and the slaughtered pigs.  One morning, before the Pig Barn Gallery opens, Mary Muncil and I will perform a cleansing  ceremony in the barn, blessing and releasing whatever may be there.  And Simon will continue to get lots of nourishing food and care and love,  healing us both at the same time.


19 thoughts on “The Pigs and Simon

  1. Maria – I will never forget the moment that I realized that being open to my vulnerability was going to make me stronger. I think that you and Jon are offering Simon “the sacred space of possibility” –what Linda Kohanov calls “ an active form of patience without attachment to outcome, allowing someone in a place of uncertainty to feel supported through the darkest night of the soul”. When people use the word “resurrection”, it is usually in the context of the Bible, but in the dictionary, there’s a definition that I like better – “a revival from inactivity or misuse, as in a resurrection of hope”. No matter what happens with Simon, you are giving him hope. It encourages the flame that is the will to live to keep burning.

    1. It’s so hard to believe that about vulnerability even if a part of us knows it. I love the idea of the “sacred space of possibility” and the definition “a revival from inactivity or misuse. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I know how you feel about the pig thing. It’s good to acknowledge it and have a little ceremony. There is a coming of age book written by Robert Newton Peck called A Day No Pigs Would Die. It is controversial because of how accurate the description is of how pigs are slaughtered. Some people wanted it removed from childrens libraries.

    1. I remember that book, I actually stole it from the library in Jr high. I don’t remember the description though, or who knows maybe a part of me does.

  3. Maria, I can’t tell you how moved I am by your writing this morning, and by Jon’s. The tears have been dripping. I am touched beyond words about Simon and the kindness that he is now receiving. Jon’s talking about donkeys being mentioned in the Kabbulah and now the arrival of Simon…seems like affirmation of your journey.

  4. Maria,
    I’m glad Mary is doing the cleansing ceremony before the opening of your show in the Pig Barn. The gallery looks beautiful and I’m sure it will be packed with people before you know it. I also read what Jon wrote about the impact of rescuing Simon has had and will have on all of you. It looks like that sweet little donkey is attached to both of you already. Look forward to reading about your opening…my students are having one on the same day.

    I truly appreciate all that you and Jon do for animals. Such sensitivity and understanding.

  5. A very powerful and moving awakening, Maria. Your artwork and ‘heartwork’ are intertwined on so many levels. I so admire your ability to share your vulnerability and growth.

  6. Thanks for sharing the feelings that were evoked in you as you acknowledged the pig barn and it’s former function Maria, it was very moving. I so loved the blessing you gave the barn yourself a while back and now adding Mary’s blessing and cleansing brings it home. Best wishes for a grand art show and please accept my humbly offered blessing of peace and renewed purpose to the Pig Barn Art Gallery. Also blessings on Simon, may he luxuriate in your and Jon’s loving kindness. Terri

  7. Maria,
    good luck with your opening.

    I am shocked at the condition of Simon, it is only
    decent that you are helping him. How can one keep animals
    in that condition?????I hope the other animals were

    I know your art opening will be successful as your frame of mind
    is in a good sphere!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  8. I sure would have had a hard time with what went on in a Pig barn too, Maria. A cleansing ceremony is a great idea. Yes, animals bred for meat may die in a cruel fashion. I truly believe that the family farmers I get my meat from have raised their animals humanely and “harvested” them in a manner that was not cruel.

    I don’t know how it might have been done in the days of the Pig Barn. But it is good to acknowledge our feelings about such goings on.

    I commend you for rescuing that poor little donkey. That was a great thing you did. I know he will get strong and blossom under your care, both you and Jon.

  9. Beautiful, Maria. There are no accidents in life. As events and circumstances and decisions intertwine, they provide reflections for us to see ourselves – past and present, and if we see clearly, we will grow toward the future possibilities. Namaste, Maria.

  10. A cleansing ceremony is a great idea… opening your life to Simon is part of cleansing for Simon’s past, for the farm, and for you. I believe that animals do suffer when they are abused, but that because they truly live in the moment the few days of Simon’s life with you has made that suffering a thing of the past. I believe Simon is looking only forward, and your bringing beauty and art and new life to the Pig Barn is a cleansing of its past as well. You’re doing good, and it will be okay, Maria. <3

  11. Good morning, Maria – Thank you for your honest and open feelings about Simon and the pigs. Animals and people always present themselves to us at the time when we have become open and ready to learn from the lessons they teach us. Simon is a gift each day to many of us, touching and inspiring far beyond Bedlam Farm, and I thank you and Jon for your courageous and loving care of him. May he continue to blossom and thrive! I was similarly graced by a beloved horse through whom I learned, grew and came to love in new ways. The cleansing and blessing in memory and honor of the pigs will surely help bring a happy future to the Pig Barn. Have a wonderful
    “Opening” this weekend and very best wishes!

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