One of my favorite Peanuts comic strips unfolds this way: Charlie Brown is worrying about something – as usual – and lamenting about it to his faithful beagle. He concludes by saying, “Oh Snoopy, you’re so lucky, you don’t have a care in the world.” But in the final panel Snoopy is all alone, lying atop his doghouse in the dark. A single thought bubble over his head reads, “I wonder where my next meal is coming from…”
The comic is so funny, of course, because pets don’t worry the way we humans often do. Part of the reason we love our animals is because they trust us so completely. Pets offer an unconditional, faithful kind of love that is positively healing.
Truth is, Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schultz was just picking up on what Jesus taught 2000 years ago about animals and trust. In Matthew’s gospel, Jesus reminds us to “…look at the birds of the air; they don’t sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” If birds can depend on God so completely, why can’t we? To drive his point home, Jesus offers this practical wisdom, aimed at the Charlie Browns among us (myself included): “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
This Sunday at Bethesda we celebrate the Feast of St. Francis, a beloved saint who deeply valued our relationship with all God’s creatures. We’ll have the Blessing of the Animals at our 10:00 a.m. service, a time to ask for God’s blessing on our furry friends – with perhaps with a lizard or hedgehog thrown in for variety. It’s a wonderful time to invite a friend to church, both the two- and four-legged kind. And it’s an opportunity to say thank-you to God for our pets, for all they teach us about simple, loving trust.
The Rev. Susan R. Beebe