By Allison W. Phinney, Jr.
The following article was first printed in May, 1987. But it could have been written today. The things the author discusses are part of an ongoing, spiritual process, that continues to take place within the hearts and minds of those who are willing to listen to the message of God's love and compassion for all creatures.
Foxes and polar bears, seals that need saving, and apes that learn to "talk"—the list goes on. Have you noticed how much news and information about animals of all kinds is reaching the public nowadays? People have always loved their pets. But something new is happening. We're becoming warmly interested in animals in a way and on a scale that's new. It's an encouraging sign of he times.
Prime-time television news will sometimes cover efforts to save whales that have wandered up the "wrong" river or will report attempts to prevent pods of whales from beaching.
Recently we've been reading about the restored reputation of the North American wolf. Turns out he's an essentially upright character with considerable devotion to his family.
Should it be surprising, really, that as mankind matures toward spiritual consciousness we'll see an increasing appreciation for all aspects of animals and environment? As people grow in Christliness and spirituality,they perceive each other differently. Instead of seeing someone to go to war with, they find delight in the life-enhancing customs and celebrations of their neighbors. Similarly, we're beginning to understand animals less as something to abuse and to dominate and more something to take joy in and to understand.
The teachings of Christian Science guide thought further in this direction. They show, for example, that just as we don't know the real nature of God's man until we let the Christ, or spiritual idea, illumine our view of man, so also we don't know the rest of creation as God has actually made it until we're conceiving it spiritually. As the Christ, Truth, lifts up and transforms our thought we can also expect to come to understand more about all God's ideas as He has made them.
The book of Genesis, in the Bible, tells about the creation of great whales, fish of the sea, birds, beasts, cattle, and all the creeping things. And they are seen as belonging to God's good creation. Noah saves representatives of these species from the flood. And in place throughout the Bible, as in the book of Job, some of these creatures, like behemoth the hippopotamus (“Behold he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not”), are approached with a sense of awe for heir strength, and others are valued for their speed or beauty.
But if we try to conceive of God as having created an animal kingdom which, however various and beautiful, expresses the generally accepted meaning of the word "animality" we run into great difficulty. Would God have made animals that seem designed primarily to dine on each other—a smaller species that must die in order that other larger ones can live? Would a loving and wise Creator have determined the short life span of a loved domestic dog, for example? Would He have shaped the voracious forms that seem to live only to attack other life forms?
If we believed this, we would have to change our view of God as a loving Creator. Instead it makes a good deal more sense to change our human concept of creation. What isn't in accord with God the only Creator, we can assume, is not the final word, not real and substantial. We need the humility to be willing to look for the spiritual creation that would be in accord with Spirit, or God. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy makes the point, "God is the Life, or intelligence, which forms and preserves the individuality and identity of animals as well as of men."* Specifically, then, disbelieving the picture of unbridled carnivorousness, violence, instinctive behavior described by the senses, in favor of hewing to the divine facts of a spiritual creation, can begin to give us a different, healing perspective. And this perspective makes us more discerning of God's actual creation—of the true nature of the divine Mind's ideas—in our everyday experience.
Many wonderful healings of farm animals and pets have come about through prayer on this basis. I recall as a youngster, for example, seeing our dog healed of a veterinary-diagnosed slipped disk and at another time of a longstanding lump on the head. Once when she was lost I was spiritually impelled, as I prayed, to walk off the road into the middle of a large cornfield, where I was able to go straight to her, pick her up, and take her home. Prayer in Christian Science has healed family cats of ear mites, distemper, an atrophied leg, and kidney problems, without any medical help.
But we can expect to see more than the healing of animals' physical ills. As the spiritual leavening of human consciousness goes on, we will be seeing something of animals' true being, more of their intelligence, individuality, compatibility, and purpose. Every one of God's creatures is, after all, essential to the richness and completeness of God's creation. And humanity has important lessons to learn from animals, lessons we all very much need, about the nature of love and fidelity, goodness, grace, independence, beauty, nobility—aspects of true being that God expresses throughout His creation.
Mrs. Eddy makes this intriguing observation in the chapter entitled "Genesis" in Science and Health:" God gives the lesser idea of Himself for a link to the greater, and in return, the higher al-ways protects the lower ...Love giveth to the least spiritual idea, might, immortality and goodness, which shine through all as the blossom shines through the bud." **
As we get a stronger, better conception of the wonder and the perfection of Spirit's creation, what lessons mankind is going to be learning about these links to the greater—what changes will continue to come in mankind's view of the Creator's creation! #
*Science and Health, p. 550. ** Ibid., p. 518 Reprinted by permission from the Christian Science Sentinel © 1987 The Chistian Science Publishing Society. All rights reserved.