Steeds 26

10 05 2017

“Sarah.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Isolde is retired, but she still needs exercise. Every day. It’s a fine evening. Would you like to take a ride?”

Sarah looked at Lee’s beautiful chestnut mare and smiled. “Oh, but I’m not properly dressed, sir.”

“Bah. Isolde won’t mind.”

Sarah looked at Ella, and then at Clara.

“Bah,” said Clara. “So your pretty dress smells like a pretty horse for a while. Your Aunt Ella won’t mind washing it later. She doesn’t mind washing my clothes.”

“That’s only because you don’t mind sharing the money you earn at that print shop,” said Ella. “But your Aunt Clara is correct. Go for the ride.”

Isolde stood wearing nothing but a bridle and lead rein.

Lee held a hand out in invitation.

“Yes!” said Sarah.

Lee stooped to place a book on the ground. He then put two hands together to make a stirrup so that Sarah could mount the horse. Once up, Sarah immediately leaned forward to hug Isolde around her neck. Sarah buried her face in the horse’s long, flowing, flaxen mane. Ella stepped to the horse’s left side, and Clara stepped to the horse’s right. Each made sure Sarah’s skirts were discreetly arranged.

Lee began walking, and Isolde strode at his side. “We’ll be back before the sky turns black,” he called. “When the fireflies are blinking.”

They travelled in silence for a time. Eventually, Lee said, “Your aunt says you have a question she’d like me to try answering.”

“Do animals go to heaven?”

“What does your minister say?”

“The Reverend Van Meter says no.”

“He pastors the Reformed church west of town.”

“Yes, sir.”

“And, in the words of the Apostle Paul, what saith the Scripture?”

“I don’t know.”

“Well, I suppose we can start with the passage your minister probably has in mind.” Lee draped the lead rein over a shoulder and opened his book. “ ‘Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?’ ”

“That sounds familiar,” said Sarah.

“Let’s consider the question in its context. ‘I said in mine heart concerning the estate of the sons of men, that God might manifest them, and that they might see that they themselves are beasts. For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth downward to the earth? Wherefore I perceive that there is nothing better, than that a man should rejoice in his own works, for that is his portion: for who shall bring him to see what shall be after him?’

“Now I doubt seriously that the Reverend Van Meter would say to any man or woman that human beings are nothing more than beasts. I doubt that he would agree that humans have no preeminence over animals, that men and beasts die in the same manner, and that, in accordance with a shared cosmic destiny, they alike gain nothing more than decomposing into elemental dust.

“The person who wrote this book of the Bible went on a quest. In short, the challenge was this: can man declare independence from God and make a life for himself? The result: he can try, but life will be vain, futile, meaningless, lacking in significance. It is God who puts eternity into the heart of man. Without God, no life; without God, life is nothing but death and that which is as good as death.

“In this passage, the writer is positing that humans and animals are alike. He asks, ‘Who really knows whether the spirits of men go up and the spirits of animals go down?’ What saith the Scripture?”

“What does it say?” Sarah asked.

“It says that God saw everything that He had made and, behold, it was good. That includes the animals. How can anyone who bothers to behold a horse and a cat and a butterfly and a hummingbird and a bumblebee not agree that each is amazingly good?”

“I do agree,” said Sarah.

“And what artisan, what artist does not wish his work to last, to endure through all time? What artisan, what artist does not wish his work to be appreciated through all time?”

“None, I would think.”

“And what does it mean to appreciate? Welcome. Understand. Value. Respect. Esteem. Treasure. Cherish. Even love. Did you appreciate Daisy?”

“I did,” Sarah cried.

“Do you still appreciate Daisy?”

“I do!”

“Is not the God who made Daisy thus pleased?”

“I hope so.”

“If God appreciates what He has made, why wouldn’t He want it to last beyond the last? If God appreciates you, made in His image, why wouldn’t He want you to last beyond the last, and also that which you appreciate of His?

“It is written, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life….  He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.’

“True, it is not written that animals have the offer of everlasting life. But why? I believe it is because animals are innocent; they are not evil, and they have no need of redemption.

“But can they have everlasting life? Do animals get to heaven? Are animals in heaven? What saith the Scripture? In the book of Revelation we read that Christ Jesus Himself has a horse. We read that the armies of heaven ride on horses. Now, we can debate whether what John saw is actual or fanciful, real or symbol.

“However, consider this. It is written, ‘If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?’ It is also written that, when we see the ascended Jesus, we shall be like Him. It is written that He will not be ashamed to call us brothers and sisters. This being so, even if an animal is not yet in heaven, can we not reasonably expect that God our Father will grant His children permission to bring an animal to heaven? Isn’t it possible that we, once there, can ourselves learn how to resurrect an animal? If it is impossible for God to forget how to bring the very same saint who died and decomposed thousands of years ago to a new and glorious life, is it not possible for God to teach His children to do the very same thing for creatures of His they appreciated in lives past?

“Such is my hope after this fine, but aging horse experiences death.”

 

Advertisements

Actions

Information

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: