From dust to dust?
Ecclesiastes 3: 16-22 (NRSVA)
16 Moreover, I saw under the sun that in the place of justice, wickedness was there, and in the place of righteousness, wickedness was there as well. 17 I said in my heart, God will judge the righteous and the wicked, for he has appointed a time for every matter, and for every work. 18 I said in my heart with regard to human beings that God is testing them to show that they are but animals. 19 For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. They all have the same breath, and humans have no advantage over the animals; for all is vanity. 20 All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. 21 Who knows whether the human spirit goes upwards and the spirit of animals goes downwards to the earth? 22 So I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them?
I’m going to be honest and tell you I have wrestled with today’ passage. Especially verse 21 “Who knows whether the human spirit goes upwards, and the spirit of animals goes downwards to the earth?” I have struggled with this verse as animals are part of God’s creation and they have pure spirits, untouched by evil. When they die they do not need to be judged, so surely their pure souls would go directly to be with the Lord in heaven?
I’m not trying to be controversial. I ask this sincerely as a woman who has been blessed by the devotion and friendship of many companion animals. I have connected more deeply with these creatures than most humans. I’ve got to know and love their unique personalities. I’ve mourned when they die. For me there is nothing more comforting than stroking soft fur and I know the pleasure that connection brings to my companion animals. They long to be touched and spoken to and loved. We are connected in love. Surely that connection, that love, does not end on the earthly plain but continues into the next world for eternity?
And it isn’t just me, I know it isn’t. Many of my friends and family have experienced the joy of a deep relationship with a companion animal. And the devastating grief when their companion animal dies.
Since time began humans and animals have been drawn together in partnership, dogs, cats and horses. With the best, most productive partnerships being the ones based on love, kindness and respect.
We are connected.
Thank you, Lord God, for blessing us with the friendship of your creation
For the companion animals in our lives who teach by their example,
To live fully in the present,
To enjoy all of life, from the mundane to the glorious,
To be cheerful,
To love whole-heartedly,