A more mystical concept of animals

June 23, 2009

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth.

– Henry Beston, The Outermost House

This quotation was on a poster at our vet’s office in Atlanta, and it stuck with me so that I eventually read Beston’s book, which is a wonderful piece of nature writing that documents a year he spent in a tiny cottage at the very tip of Cape Cod.

It’s much on mind today because I am going to the vet later on today, but will leave that place alone. It sucks  – hard – that we outlive our animals, but that’s the deal we strike when we bring them into our homes and lives.

We say to God, “I will take your creature to our home, provide for it and together we will grow and learn about each other. We will make each other happy and fill voids and we will all be better for it.”

And God replies,  “So it shall be, but only for a little time of years.”

We sayd “Deal!” and dive in. Then our time is up, and we’re sad, but it must be, for the final boon the steward grants to those in his care is relief from pain, darkness and confusion.

And then, what? I really don’t know. Animal heaven. Warm grass, cool shade, and endless hamburger.

Another comes to take that place, and we begin again.

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One Response to “A more mystical concept of animals”

  1. Joe McBee Says:

    So sorry to hear about this. I have made that journey myself a few times and it is never an easy one.

    I have always been amazed at how many animals face their demise with such dignity. I don’t know if it is because they don’t understand what is happening to them, or because in their own way, they “understand” more than we do.


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