A Mystery Inscrutable
by Lori Heine
One of my favorite writers is Dorothy L. Sayers. I’m always finding “aha” moments in her words. As I happen to be an animal lover, with several furry children, one passage in her book, The Mind of the Maker, particularly strikes me:
“It may quite well be perilous, as it must be inadequate, to interpret the mind of our pet dog by analogy with ourselves; we can by no means enter directly into the nature of a dog; behind the appealing eyes and the wagging tail lies a mystery as inscrutable as the mystery of the Trinity.”
I’ve often thought that when I gaze into the eyes of my dog, or any of my four cats, what looks back at me is something holy. Do they see the same in mine? Indeed, as Sayers also notes and Scripture absolutely asserts, we human beings are made in the likeness and image of God. It’s almost certainly true that the most powerful experience of God our animal companions ever have comes through us. I don’t suppose it’s at all irreverent to say that for George, Catwoman, Sparkle, Dudette and Mister Huggins, their religious faith is their love for me, and mine for them.
We also experience God, largely, through human beings. The problem with finding the Ultimate in such frail clay vessels is that we often try to confine Him to that tiny space. We can all too easily confuse being made in God’s image with being God.
I think this is why so many people confuse professional religious leaders—those who claim to speak for God—with God Himself. If they are nasty, arrogant and hateful, then—such people imagine—their God must be, too. Refusing to believe in God may actually be their vote of confidence that if He does exist, He has to be better than that.
Many of us have had days when we’ve been treated so badly by other human beings that only our dogs or cats can make us feel loved. We drag home at the end of a long, cruel day, just ready to quit on the whole world—and we’re greeted by a meow, a woof, a wagging tail or a warm snuggle. The eyes that gaze up at us are full of unconditional love. The closest to God they may ever come has just walked through the door.
I want my pets to know that God is good, and that life is worth living. Even most professional religious leaders treat their pets that well. How wonderful it will be when all of them learn to treat human beings—including those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender—as well as they do dogs, cats, parakeets and hamsters.
© 2016 Lori Heine
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