Thursday, November 8, 2007

doggie heaven

Several friends have expressed their sympathy on the loss of my dog by imagining him in some happy place where he is surrounded by dog friends and romping and playing with them, and looking forward to being reuinted eventually with me and my husband. I greatly appreciate the kind thought. I smile at the picture and accept the comfort intended. But I don't imagine Ness continuing to exist that way.

First of all, the thing that would make Ness happiest would not be romping with other dogs but to be back here with Peleg and I and our other dog, Sabrina. In fact we used to joke that one reason he had lived so long is that Heaven couldn't possibly be more attractive to him than the life he already had.

The other reason I reject that picture, as well as the similar picture of Heaven for people, is that it implies that the perfection of our existence is simply a happy version of what we already have. For the man who loved to fish we say after he died that he's in Heaven fishing at the perfect pond, and so on. The theology claims that we've already reached the spiritual goal, in whatever form we happened to find ourselves, and that the ultimate will simply be a better version of the present, and lasting forever.

I rather think that we have a ways to go yet before we achieve spiritual perfection, both humans and dogs. Ness had his doggie life; it doesn't serve him or the universe to keep having it forever. Instead, having fulfilled that challenge, and having lived his doggie existence admirably, he's now ready for the next challange. When a student passes the fifth grade the reward is not to re-do the fifth grade forever, but to go on to the sixth grade.


hafidha sofia said...

Very interesting point. And what a beautiful dog!

Ed Terpening said...

You're right, I guess we don't really think it through. That's why you're here! So sorry about the loss of your dog. Mike and I know how incredibly painful that can be.