Spirituality for Today – December 2012 – Volume 17, Issue 5

Within Their Eyes

By Rev. Raymond Petrucci

A photo of a dog in a green elf custome

Many a Christmas visitor has been greeted by a family pet dressed up as a reindeer or adorned in some other holiday garb. At the sight, a warm smile comes to one's face. For most people, their pets are part of the family and rightfully should join in the festivities. A most appropriate fact is that the ambiance of the first Christmas featured many animals too. Mary rode upon a donkey. The angel appeared to announce the birth of Christ to the shepherds and, by default, their flocks. The very site of Our Lord's birth was a place where animals were kept; theirs were among the first earthly eyes to view the Savior. From the camels of the Wise Men, through the reindeer of Santa Claus, and to the puppy under the Christmas tree, animals have had a special place in the continuing story of Christmas.

The legends of many lands speak of Christmas and animals. The typically pessimistic tone of the poetry of Thomas Hardy is lifted somewhat in his reference to one such legend.

The Oxen

Christmas Eve, and twelve of the clock,
"Now they are on their knees,"
An elder said as we sat in a flock
By the embers in hearthside ease.

We pictured the meek mild creatures where
They dwelt in their strawy pen,
Nor did it occur to one of us there
To doubt that they were kneeling then.

So fair a fancy few would weave
In these years! Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
Come; see the oxen kneel.

"In the lonely barton by yonder comb
Our childhood use to know,"
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.

Around Christmas in the year 2000, Bob and Janice Kolb of New Hampshire received a most unusual gift at their home. One morning they opened the glass slider of their house to reveal a very big and a very real moose. Although the roads of New Hampshire and Maine often post Moose Crossing signs, the magnificent beast is by nature quite elusive. That was not the case for the Kolbs on that morning. Even more amazing was that the moose did not run away at the sight of Bob and Janice but simply stood there looking at the couple or slowly moving around the property. Janice would speak gently to the moose and was able to spend hours just watching the huge and unafraid animal. The Kolbs and Matilda (the name they gave the moose) spent that Christmas together. They felt that the noble animal was a gift from God during that special Christmas season.

Mystery inhabits the loving gaze of a pet toward its owner. Something within their eyes makes the idea that there is no heaven for pets unthinkable. As a little boy, Jesus may have had a pet himself. Could it be possible that the Savior of all humanity might extend that salvation a bit?

A Very Blessed Christmas from All of Us to All of You!