This coming Sunday is the day on which Evangelical Lutheran Worship commemorates Francis of Assisi (October 4). It has become custom in many churches to bless pets on St. Francis day and I know pastors in congregations where animals are welcome at worship that day.
Well, I’d never bring my cat Smitten to worship–he’s too grouchy and bite-y to take out in public. But it does make me think about how our animal companions bless us. I’m glad they get a day to be blessed in return.
People who don’t have pets—such as my mother—don’t understand why the animals that live in our homes and in our hearts are so important to us. In her worldview, while dogs and cats and hamsters and the like may be cute and funny, they aren’t worth the hassle: the trips to the vet, the hair on your furniture, what to do with them when you travel … not to mention the path of destruction that even good-mannered pets can leave in their wake.
When my cat was younger, he used to pull every tissue out of the Kleenex box while I was at work. When he was done with that, he’d unroll the toilet paper. If he still had some time, he’d chew the buttons off shirts in the laundry basket. He didn’t swallow them, I’m relieved to say. He piled them carefully under one of the pillows on my bed. He is nothing if not industrious.
Aside from amusement, animal companions give us acceptance and affection and attention–at least some of the time. It’s nice to have someone so happy to see me when I get home from work. And it’s not based only on the condition of his food bowl–Smitten has crunchers available all day and can snack whenever he wants. No, we share a home and a day-to-day routine that bond us. He is happy to snuggle in my lap and have his chin rubbed, even if it’s only for a few minutes. He follows me around to see what I’m doing (and he seems to be sincerely interested).
I consider it a privilege to have his trust and loyalty. I count it among my blessings to have his company for the years given to us.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. How about you? Will your congregation bless animals on Sunday? Do you give special thanks for the animals who share your home? Do you count them among the blessings of this life?