I write this with an overwhelming feeling of being hungover with grief. I lost my 12-year-old miniature schnauzer last night. She died in my dad’s arms, at home, far away from a vet’s office or the puppy mill that she was rescued from. I had the opportunity to hold her, tell her it was ok to leave, and that we loved her deeply. She was, after all, our companion and friend for many years.
As I sit here in my parents’ bedroom committing these words to paper the other dogs are quiet, the quietest I’ve ever seen them. They know something has happened, that someone is missing. But that turns my mind to death and the end of all things. Will Holly be redeemed? Will Holly be restored? Will Holly be resurrected?
John Wesley, a person in whom I have great respect, preached a sermon titled “The General Deliverance” on the redemption of the whole of Creation. He used the text below:
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now;
– Romans 8:19-22
Wesley argues that we humans are subject to the fall and responsible for it, but we took the whole of Creation with us. If God is fully redeeming us, won’t God fully redeem Creation? These are all questions Wesley considers. I can’t say for certain about anything regarding the resurrection, but I do know this: I want nothing to do with redemption that isn’t offered to a dog like Holly. The eschaton wouldn’t be the same without her.
This much is sure for me: I feel the presence of God when I was with Holly. I feel the depth of God’s love when I play with my other dogs, Lizzie, Frank, Little Man, and Roscoe. I know the certainty of God’s grace when I think of the second chance Holly received being rescued from that puppy mill.
I’m starting to think that even though some would argue you need the sinner’s prayer to get to heaven, God’s embrace is bigger than that. God’s embrace is far reaching, even to dear Holly. For Holly embodied elements of God’s presence that aren’t possible for me to embody. And for that, thanks be to God.
The prophet Isaiah envisioned a time and place in the eschatological vision when the wolf shall lie down with the lamb. Well I envision a time and place when the poodle will lie down with the schnauzer, and all will be right with the world. Our strongest and surest hope is found in the reuniting in redeemed and restored realities. And if my faith has taught me anything it’s that Holly has been redeemed and restored. I’m thankful you got a second chance, because ultimately, you taught me the story of redemption.
Go rest well Holly, you lived a life full of fierce love and faithful presence. Rest in peace and rise in glory.