Theologian Denis Edwards in his inspiring book, Breath of Life: A Theology of the Creator Spirit, retrieves and develops the truth of God’s love for creation. He quotes St. Basil’s insights into the symphony of creation in which God the Artist embraces and delights in each creature-- fish, birds, animals, flowers, even the little sea urchin.
This is good, but not too surprising news for the faithful who love their dogs. When we lose our beloved companions the heartbreaking sorrow can be assuaged by the belief that this is not the end. In the last century C.S. Lewis explained that a beloved dog can be taken up into its owner’s humanity in the way that humans are taken up into Christ’s resurrected humanity. Lewis wrote before the advent of ecological. feminist and evolutionary theologians who put more stress on the independent value of creation, but he did appreciate animal life.
I don’t think I paid much attention until my eyes were opened by the loving bond with our beautiful sweet spaniel, Sunshine. What affection, what forgiveness, what enjoyment of the present moment! I’d never expected to have a dog (allergic child at home) and I certainly never understood the blessings of love and joy that a dog can bring its humans.
I could never replace Sunny so this is a once and only love story. I answer people who nag me about a new dog that I am by nature monogamous: one man, one dog. But I also tell friends that can theologically receive it, (no pearls before swine) that I expect to see Sunny again. I’m sure I am not the first believer to discover this truth.