My spirit animal is a rhinoceros. Sure, that is not what the online Buzz Feed quiz indicated, but that is who I would be if I were an animal. While I know that rhinos are not particularly pretty, there is a certain charm about them that makes them stand out in a crowd. Rhinos like mud baths and they are communal, their offspring can be described as cute, and that horn is something else. But what really resounds for me, albeit folklore wisdom is that rhinos are the only animals, when they see a storm coming, they run into it and not away from it. This is because they know that better weather is on the other side. They know that even though they could run, they cannot hide from what is coming, and it is better to face it head on than to try to outrun it.
Many of us try to ignore or run away from the bad stuff, trying to resist grief, and anger and other negative emotions when it would be so much healthier to go through them, acknowledging them and resolving to come out on the other side having learning from them. Being able to work through the negative is so much healthier for us than trying to stuff our emotions and ignoring the stress that causes harm to our bodies. The problem is, we have trained our kids to be tough, especially boys, ‘real men don’t cry’. Acknowledging our sorrows and our heartaches is necessary. On the other side of this, are the people who offer forgiveness, grace, and resurrection (new life).
The same rhino philosophy can be put to use when dealing with difficult people. In the past couple of years, I have been taking the initiative to invite detractors to join me for a cup of coffee. One of two things has happened after the invite. Most of the time, there is radio silence and the insults generally cease. The most enjoyable reaction is when someone actually takes me up on a meeting, generally a friend is made and peace becomes the outcome. Maybe it is the thick skin of my inner rhino, or maybe the the determination to see the similarities of people who disagree with me, on difficult topics, which fuels my persistence in going into difficult conversations with relative ease. I know the outcome will result in better understanding and insight.
If the Rhino appears in thoughts and dreams, according to “whatsyourspiritualanimal.com,” the symbolism connects with our own spiritual life. Going into one of the busiest times of the church, I am thinking that the rhino has an important lesson for me to learn.

♦ Do as the rhino does and press your feet into the mother (earth) with connective assurance that all is well.
♦ Inhale the richness of green as the rhino does in the tall grasses in which it lives. Savor the scent – impress it fully into memory – recall it during times when you need revitalization.
♦ Surround yourself in cool comfort as the rhino does with his mud bath rituals. Again, let the rich abundance and stability of the mother (earth) enfold you and reassure you. 

It makes good sense to continue to learn and be aware of our own emotionality and spirituality.  God’s creation helps us to center ourselves and think about our place in the world and in our community. If it helps you to claim your peace, my suggestion is for you to think about the rhino; determined, usually peaceful, self-assured, and typically unafraid of running into the storm. After all, there is always sunshine after the rain.
-Noblesville’s Teri Ditslear is a pastor whose column appears Saturdays in The Times. Contact her at pastor@rolcommunity.com, on Facebook or at www.rolcommunity.com