July 22, 2017


Animalspeek was the language I wanted so much to learn when I was a kid in Brooklyn. 

Once some gang kids put kittens in a canvass bag and smashed them against the concrete handball court in the park. I was only seven, much too young and scared to do anything to help. I firmly believed those shrieking meows of those kittens were desperate pleadings for someone to save them. 

Of course, it’s purely fiction that someone could communicate with animals, but I wish I could suddenly, even now in my old age, acquire that unique gift of conversing with animals. Like St. Francis of Assisi, I would grow a little closer to the peace all souls crave daily. 

Such a gift would allow me to show compassion to all of God’s creatures because my heart would be transformed to see and hear and understand beyond the human condition. I could feel for the caterpillar, the cat on the windowpane waiting for her human friend, the dog rolled up in a ball of pain, the human lost in the dark. 

Oh, how I wished I were fluent in Animalspeek! The road to Heaven would become just a little bit clearer.

When Sharon and I lived in New Jersey we had two cats, Spiranza  cats, and Curaggiu (Hope and Courage), which we had to give away when we moved to WV. I still dream of them. I still hear them in the woods of Dream asking me why I abandoned them. How could I tell them my new landlord would not allow pets? 

Spiranza whose kittenhood was so traumatic it was hard to believe she’d dare trust anyone again. Curaggiu who leaped onto our bed when one of us was sick and never left, even to eat, until we were better again. 

Some say in Heaven we’ll find no animals and I was one of them who argued, “No soul, no Heaven,” but now in my older years I think differently. I hope in our heavenly life we will hold long conversations with those pets who loved us unconditionally.

Maybe we need to simply throw our hands up in surrender and gather in all of God’s creation and love it with all our hearts. Animals lack intellect and free will, but more than make up for it with the uncanny ability to forgive and forget. Can human beings say the same?

Listen carefully to what your cat purrs to you. Delight in the dance of your dog when he sees you. Sometimes I think angels reside within them and wear these cats and dogs the way kings wear ermine. 

Isaiah speaks of Heaven in his prophecy, The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child will lead them” (Isaiah 11:6). 

All that God has created is worthy of our admiration, even the inanimate mountain stones, the unthinking snowfall, all that we disregard in our walk through life. If visionaries have reported witnessing fields of indescribable flowers there, why not animals running through those fields or sleeping in the Light of Christ? 

Only in Heaven will we finally witness the elusive peace so unattainable in this passing world. As in the lost Garden of Eden, we who named the animals will reunite with them.

Pope Francis said, “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s children.”

Long gone to pet paradise, Curaggiu and Spiranza visit me in dreams, where they speak a rather good English that even in the roaring gray forests I can make out every word. 


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