Beginnings and ending seem to come together, don’t they? Just as Advent begins, our dog died. Babs was of a non-specified old age and a non-specified breed. But she was good. And now she’s gone. First she stopped eating. Then she stopped walking. On Nov. 30 we had to take her to the vet where she would take her last breath.
It’s hard to explain death to kids. And the deaths of animals is even harder to explain sometimes. “Do they go to heaven?” the kids want to know. Animals don’t have souls like humans. It’s important for us to understand that. But God is good and heaven is beyond anything we can imagine. So there are no final answers to that question. One friend of mine tells her kids, “Animals spend their heaven on earth, loving and being loved by you. That’s bliss to them.”
So Babs took her last breath after loving a little lady who lived down the street for many, many years. Then when Mrs. Peterson had to move to be closer to doctors and her children, Babs came home with us. For the past three years she has followed me everywhere she was allowed to go. She was a shadow dog…quietly watching over her beloved humans. Her great loyalty was a precious gift.
To paraphrase my friend, there is a lesson here for us…If we want “heaven on earth” we need to be loyal to the Great One who loved us first! God gives us the greatest gift—He loved us enough to join us on earth, suffer for us, teach us, and open the way to heaven for us. How can we not want to follow Him—to be loyal to Him, above all us?
Yet we aren’t. We turn away again and again in disloyalty. We turn to things of the world. We turn to worrying. We turn to trying to control our world, as if He weren’t even around. We would be so much happier if we turned to Him instead.
I think that’s why we need a “new year.” Advent is a time to start over. It’s a time to let the old ways go and turn back to Our Lord. In the darkness of this season, as the days are short and the light is gone so early, we are reminded of the temporariness of our time on earth. But the light, the Light, is here and we can open the door to allow the Light of His love into our hearts.
This year I am struck by the readings of Advent—they call us to remember that the Incarnation is a precursor. It a reminder that Jesus will come again—and it will be in all His glory. And we humans have immortal souls that will be judged at that time.
My husband wrote recently, “We spend too much time thinking about our exterior situation when we should be taking stock of our eternal situation!”
The reminders are everywhere that we are need to turn–turn back, reconsider our loyalties and look for heaven on earth. Even in the death of a dog and the setting of the sun, we are reminded that God is good and His Kingdom is close at hand! A new year begins. Turn to Him.
Copyright 2014, Judith Costello