By all accounts, it was a perfect day if there ever was one. It was early summer and the colors of nature were lush and vibrant. The temperature was in the Goldilocks zone … not too hot, not too cold … it just right. We were visiting grandma and grandpa at their ranch in Southern Utah.

Mitch had a gentle way about him and earned the trust of animals very quickly. That was one of his spiritual gifts, I believe … a gentle soul who brought peace to others.
— Christopher M. Jones | Mitchell's Journey

Among the reasons he loved to go the ranch, I believe seeing the many animals that lived there chief among them. There were horses and cows, chickens and ducks, alpacas and kittens, and of course a never-ending tribe of rabbits and baby bunnies. There was even a pet turtle. Then there were wild animals: deer, turkeys, snakes of all kind, and the occasional footprints of a mysterious mountain lion on the outskirts of the ranch.

Mitchell’s fascination with animals was matched only by his love for them.

On this occasion, Mitch wanted to visit some of our Alpacas. They’re a most curious animal … intelligent, inquisitive, alert and generally friendly. They also have distinctly unique personalities; some are docile and kind while others are a little insecure and tend to show off. The brown Alpaca (on back right) was named Javier and was especially insecure and liked to show everyone who was king of the hill. Mitch would laugh and laugh as he saw him prance around and act a furry fool.

Mitch had a gentle way about him and earned the trust of animals very quickly. That was one of his spiritual gifts, I believe … a gentle soul who brought peace to others. Though he is gone from this mortal place, Mitch still brings peace to my troubled heart – and I thank my Father for that. Sometimes I think I can feel him nearby tending to my own brokenness, ministering to my soul like an angel. For little Mitch knew what it was like to be broken – therefore, I think he can help those who are broken.

Mitch gently walked up to these alpacas wanting only to love them. At first, they were skittish, but in Mitch fashion, he somehow made them feel at peace and he was able to pet them. Mitchell smiled as he was able to serve these animals with love.

At one point, the alpha alpaca turned away from Mitch probably to see if Mitch was pet another side to him. Suddenly, that alpaca’s instincts took over and he kicked Mitch in the thigh … and hard. Mitch didn’t cry at first but was shocked that animal would do such a thing - especially when all he wanted to do was to help. Then, as the shock wore off, Mitchell’s feelings were hurt and tears began to roll down his sweet face. Natalie lifted the leg of Mitchell’s shorts only to reveal a hoof print on his tender skin.

It didn’t take long before the trauma faded and Mitch wanted to go back and love these animals again. Mitch wasn’t angry at the animal who kicked him … he only wanted to try harder to be Javier’s friend.

In life, others have kicked me when I wasn’t expecting it. Like Mitch, I was shocked and sometimes deeply disappointed in the person. Though I wish those experiences didn’t happen, I have grown because of them. Like Mitch, I didn’t want to retaliate but instead tried to show them I wasn’t their enemy – but in fact their friend, interested in their happiness and success.

Little Mitch taught me to keep trying. Though some people may never figure it out – and they’ll keep kicking at me, I will be at peace knowing I kept trying.

For when I try, I grow. Life's too short to live it angrily, this much I know.