My mother used to say ‘never trust people who don’t like animals. It usually means they don’t like people either.’
Now, I was always a bit dubious of that advice, because the opposite doesn’t necessarily follow. I can think of plenty of people who love animals, but are quite indifferent to human beings. Still, mother’s words stuck. And I find that what I meet someone who doesn’t like animals, I am inevitably wary.
Animals are one of God’s greatest gifts. There is something extraordinary when a creature so different, so utterly other, gives you their love and their trust. Which is perhaps how God feels about us (or how we should feel about God — I can never make up my mind which way round it is).
Lots of us know this, and are glad for the animals we share our lives with. But everyone once in a while, you come across someone whose relationship with animals is extraordinary. Where the bond between person and animal transcends expectations, without any denial of the animal’s inherent dignity or otherness.
One such person is preparing to say goodbye to one of her cats tomorrow: a cat who by all rights should have died years ago, who was neglected and ill, and then rescued by my friend. This cat is one of the happiest most loving animals I have ever seen.
It will be a hard night. But I hope this friend knows that she has done a wonderful thing — sharing a bit of God’s love for creation, being fully present to a creature who is not like her, but whose life she has fulfilled.
Rest well, Mindy.