Sunday, May 17, 2009

My angels - proof

I've been trying to explain to the kids that our cats are not 'gone' but have instead, gone ahead. They were sweet and loving kitties and are 'angels in kitty heaven' now. A dear friend found the following artwork and sent it to us. Look and you will find our angels in this beautiful picture. (Thank you Leila! I love this!)
(Thanks to the artist - I am borrowing this without permission. I hope in this personal use, I can be forgiven.)

I do not have an answer to what comes after life - but I do not worry about defining it. I understand that some people take comfort in trying to define the unknowable, and that's a good thing, but to me, it doesn't matter. Why bother trying to put a label on it if there is no one to tell me if I am right or wrong? I'll find out when I get there. And, I cannot change it once I'm there. What will be, will be. Now, in this current life, I cannot see the afterlife, or touch it, or affect it... therefore I must believe that the only thing in my control, is this life, and I do believe that what I make of it, will translate into what happens in the next... because I do believe we have souls that carry on. I believe we have a responsibility to our souls.. and part of that responsibility is respecting the souls of others, even those who are not human.

I am not Christian, but I find a lot of lovely wisdom in the Bible. I believe my spirit should be inclusive, not exclusive, so I am pleased when I find solace in any religious and/or spiritual work:

From Genesis:
20 And God said, Let the waters swarm with swarms of living souls, and let fowl fly above the earth in the expanse of the heavens. 21 And God created the great sea monsters, and every living soul that moves with which the waters swarm, after their kind, and every winged fowl after its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply on the earth. 23 And there was evening, and there was morning a fifth day.

24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth living souls after their kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth, after their kind. And it was so. 25 And God made the beast of the earth after its kind, and the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing of the ground after its kind. And God saw that it was good.
I have found variations of this verse using 'creature' rather than 'soul', but I also found this Hebrew definition:

Scofield Reference Notes

The sixth day: (1) the fecundity of the earth after the creative work of the fifth day.

[2] living creature

"Creature," Heb. nephesh, trans. soul in Gen 2.7 and usually. In itself nephesh, or soul, implies self-conscious life, as distinguished from plants, which have unconscious life. In the sense of self-conscious life animals also have "soul." See verses Gen 1:26,27 2:7,21-23. See Scofield Note: "Gen 1:26".

Anyone who has ever loved and been loved by an animal, knows that animals are self-aware and have souls, which should give us all a deeper understanding of our responsibility to our fellow creatures. I'm not suggesting we must all turn vegetarian or else go to hell! I believe that nature was created/evolved to be as it is and there truly is a food web that works... why fight our omnivorous place in it? But we should be responsible about our place in this web. There is plenty of room for conservation, and even more room for kindness.

The Holy Quran also speaks of the souls of animals and their afterlife:

There is no creature crawling on the earth or flying creature, flying on its wings, who are not communities just like yourselves - We have not omitted anything from the Book - then they will be gathered to their Lord. (Surat al-An'am, 38)

Do you not see that everyone in the heavens and earth glorifies Allah, as do the birds with their outspread wings? Each one knows its prayer and glorification. Allah knows what they do. (Surat an-Nur, 41)

Rather pretty to think of birds with outspread wings, in prayer.

I also liked this bit about animals in Islam:

The Holy Prophet(s) used to say: "Whoever is kind to the creatures of God, is kind to himself." (Wisdom of Prophet Mohammad(s); Muhammad Amin; The Lion Press, Lahore, Pakistan; 1945).

According to the learned commentators of the Qur'an Majeed….animals all live a life, individual and social, like members of a human commune. In other words, they are like communities in their own right and not in relation to human species or its values. These details have been mentioned to emphasize the point that even those species which are generally considered as insignificant or even dangerous deserve to be treated as communities; that their intrinsic and not perceptible values should be recognized, irrespective of their usefulness or their apparent harmfulness."

The significant point to note is that, physically, man has been put in the same bracket as all other species. The following Hadith leaves no ambiguity in the scene in which the Qur'an Majeed uses the word 'community': Abu Huraira reported the Prophet(s) as telling of an incident that happened to another prophet in the past. This prophet was stung by an ant and, in anger, he ordered the whole of the ants' nest to be burned. At this, God reprimanded this prophet in these words: 'because one ant stung you, you have burned a whole community which glorified Me'. (Bukhari and Muslim).
And while it is good to gain wisdom from those who came before... the wise and the learned and the time proven... wisdom can also be found, surprisingly, in some of the fluff-filled silliness that washes up in our email in-boxes. Take this example:
A man and his dog were walking along a road. The man was enjoying the scenery, when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.

He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him had been dead for years. He wondered where the road was leading them.

After a while, they came to a high, white stone wall along one side of the road. It looked like fine marble. At the top of a long hill, it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.

When he was standing before it he saw a magnificent gate in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl, and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold. He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer, he saw a man at a desk to one side.

When he was close enough, he called out, 'Excuse me, where are we?'

'This is Heaven, sir,' the man answered.

'Wow! Would you happen to have some water?' the man asked.

'Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up.' The man gestured, and the gate began to open.

'Can my friend,' gesturing toward his dog, 'come in, too?' the traveller asked.

'I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets.'

The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road and continued the way he had been going with his dog.

After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill, he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside, leaning against a tree and reading a book.

'Excuse me!' he called to the man. 'Do you have any water?'

'Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in.'

'How about my friend here?' the traveller gestured to the dog.

'There should be a bowl by the pump.'

They went through the gate, and sure enough, there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveller filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog. When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree. 'What do you call this place?' the traveller asked.

'This is Heaven,' he answered.

'Well, that's confusing,' the traveller said. 'The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.'

'Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's hell.'

'Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?'

'No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.'


MsTypo said...

I definitely believe that our pets go on to better places and wait for us there. And while they wait they have lots of friends, treats, and toys to play with. :)

Tanya said...

I too find myself relating to ideas from different religions. There have been some awesome ideas of heaven in movies too. I especially love the concept of the afterlife thats in 'What dreams may come' starring Robin Williams and Cuba Gooding Jnr. If you havent seen it keep an eye out for it. It makes me cry everytime and not just because of the storyline the idea of the afterlife being what you want it to be is just so beautiful and makes so much sense. Check out these youtube clips
Im really sorry about Ramses and Misty I know how you feel- we lost Charlie (cat) at 20 (human years) a treasured and much loved member of our family from even before we had the kids last year and I still miss her!

Connie said...

Cairo Typ0 - I believe my kitties are probably hanging out with my dad right now, climbing over his recliner as he watches golf on TV, begging for goodies, and yes, they no doubt have their favorite toys :)

Tanya - I am definitely going to have to check out that movie. I've never seen or heard of it (we were in the midst of a crazy move - of course - at the time it came out). I bet I'd love the novel too. "City of Angels" makes me cry every time I see it, but I love the idea of angels with God's gift of free will. We had our cats years before our kids were born, they were definitely a part of our family and will never be forgotten... which hurts, but is as it should be.

Lydia said...

Oh, I love that last story " . . it screens out the people that would leave their best friend behind." I have to agree with Tanya, 'What dreams may come' is a definite tear-jerker but very insightful, thought provoking and definitely appropriate for right now! ;) Keep smilin'!

Connie said...

Hi Lydia - yep! Love that last little story. It is very sweet :)