This was a local story that went international, and even though it is quite a few years old, it's always fresh in my mind probably because The Peace Abbey is just down the road from me and I pass it regularly. That and the fact that Emily's soul was and still is breathtakingly powerful. So for those of you who may never have heard of Emily, this is her story. And once heard, you'll never forget it.
Emily started out as just another nameless cow raised locally to be slaughtered for all the things cows are sadly slaughtered for. On November 14, 1995, while waiting her turn in line at the A. Arena & Sons slaughterhouse here, she jumped a fence and beat feet into the woods. A 1400lb cow jumping a five foot fence? Uh-hunh. And then she managed to elude her captors and keep herself alive for more than a month living by her wits in the wintry wild. And that's when The Peace Abbey stepped in. They bought her for a dollar and lured her to them with buckets of feed and on December 24, she became a permanent resident at the Abbey. She was named Emily and instantly became a spokescow for peace lovers, animal lovers, vegetarians and hindus everywhere.
People revered her for her strength and made pilgrimages to her beautiful barn, built from donations. She was a serene and gentle soul who touched everyone who was in her presence. There was definitely something there behind those big brown eyes that the average cow is missing. She was possessed of a genuine wisdom and intelligence. She knew things.
Emily lived happily and was adored by those who knew her until her passing on March 30, 2003 after a lengthy battle with cancer. She was buried on the grounds of The Peace Abbey, behind the beautiful statue of Gandhi, on April 2 of that year before a standing room only crowd. Hair clippings from her forehead and from the tip of her tail, a bit of her blood, and a bit of a golden thread that had been placed through her ear by a Hindu priest were released into the sacred Ganges River later that month.
Emily lives on today in the hearts of everyone who has heard her remarkable story or was blessed to have met her in person. She was a gentle soul with immense courage and conviction. Her gravesite marks the Sacred Cow Animal Rights Peace Memorial at the Abbey and is marked with a life-sized bronze statue of her (which was reworked when the sculptor was told that he hadn't gotten her eyes right and her eyes needed to be perfect to reflect her remarkable inner self).
A cow with a sense of self, who knew how to save her own life, who in the next seven and half years spiritually moved countless people, and convinced thousands more to become vegetarians? Sometimes miracles do happen.
Photos courtesy of The Peace Abbey.