The Oasis - June 12, 2024

Author: Rev. Dan Hollis
June 12, 2024

      I was speaking with two of our church members, Joyce and Harvey, after the worship service one Sunday. They made some kind remarks about my sermon, and then dropped a nugget of wisdom that has stuck with me ever since. I can’t remember what prompted it, or even what the sermon I had preached that day was about, but they shared with me a quote that I won’t soon forget. The quote was by turn of the century author Henry Childs Merwin, about what he called “the mission of the dog.” I grew up with a yellow lab named Cagney (yes, after the actor), so my ears pricked up at what they were saying. Later I looked up the quote and found a whole essay Merwin had written in the Atlantic in 1910, and I wanted to share a piece of that essay with you:

      “The mission of the dog — I say it with all reverence — is the same as the mission of Christianity, namely, to teach mankind that the universe is ruled by love. Ownership of a dog tends to soften the hard hearts of men. There are two great mysteries about the lower animals: one, the suffering which they have to endure at the hands of the man; the other, the wealth of affection which they possess, and which for the most part is unexpended. All animals have this capacity for loving other creatures, man included. Crows, for example, show it to a remarkable degree. ‘As much latent affection goes to waste in every flock of crows that flies overhead as would fit a human household for heaven.’ A crow and a dog, if kept together, will become almost as fond of each other as of their master. Surely this fact, this capacity of the lower animals to love, not only man, but one another, is the most significant, the most deserving to be pondered, the most important in respect to their place in the universe, of all the facts that can be learned about them.”

Pastor Dan

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