Sparkie in all her glory.
Miss Gabbie was a black cat, and she loved my wife,
the Reverend, right
down to the ground. How many times had I seen the
two of them, the smaller draped over the larger,
two girls sharing a quiet and wonderful moment.
Then Miss Gabbie died, and Lord
did we cry, and cry. I've been owned by several
cats in my life, and Miss Gabbie was one of the
best. Often when I talk to her sister, Miss
Sparkie, I wonder why she
lives and her sister doesn't. I find myself wondering
how much longer we will enjoy our Sparkie.
I read in the newspapers that
researchers at Texas A&M University have copied
a cat by cloning a female domestic shorthair called
cc, which stands for Copycat.
The news story that I read cautions that a cloned
animal isn't a copy of the one that went before.
Colors can be different, personality (presumably)
will be different, and there will be no bond from
“This is a reproduction, not a
resurrection,” the head researcher said.
How wonderful it would be if pets
didn't die, if people didn't die. Never mind that
the poet T.S. Eliot said that the
Sibyl, the one in Greek
mythology who asked for eternal life and forgot
to include a wish for eternal heath, had one thing
to whisper from the ashes of her misunderstood hopes:
“I want to die.”
Pets do die, and people do die, and
now that we can clone our pets, and people won't
be far behind, it seems safe to say, Why bother?
If I get a copy of the one I love, and that copy
has no certain correspondence to the original beyond
the level of DNA, why bother?
I guess that there would be some
powerful associations with the clone no matter what
developed and that this could be healing, or satisfying,
or whatever, but why bother?
When our Lord Jesus Christ was
crucified, dead and buried, his followers went into
a dark room and closed the door. They were devastated,
and terrified. They were like little bobbing boats
quickly filling with water. Three days later they
were transformed, and reinvigorated.
Jesus had risen. The same. The same personality.
The same beautiful face to die for. The same master
with the confusing but curiously comforting ways.
Jesus himself, in the flesh. And he wasn't a clone,
and after three days, and the inevitable stench,
he certainly could not be said to have been resuscitated.
He was dead, and now was alive again.
Resurrection, not resuscitation.
Resurrection, not cloning. This wasn't a copycat
Jesus; it was Jesus himself – older, wiser, and
kinder. More stern and beautiful than ever. The
followers were amazed; Peter was giddy with joy.
In another 40 days, Jesus would
depart from them again, ascending into heaven to
sit at the right hand of the Father, to intercede
for us. The followers didn't know that the clock
was ticking, and when the time can to say goodbye
again, the gospel writer Matthew tells us, “Some
Finally, a word of sense.
I doubt that I will ever be able
to fully understand, or explain, resurrection, even
though I can distinguish resurrection from resuscitation
or cloning. I doubt that I ever will hear or retell
the story without a twinge of doubt, fear, and trembling.
However, that is just fine with me. As a wise member
of our church is fond of saying: There are true
stories, and there are stories that are true.
Sparkie dies, I won't save any of
her, to preserve her DNA. I'll probably bury her
in the backyard next to her sister, and I'll cry
my eyes out, but I won't hold out for a second go-round.
Once is enough, because it has to be enough, and
because our God loves us but does not coddle us
or shield us from our pain, or pleasure.
I can't write about these things
without a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.
Pets are like that. Pets bring us as close to God’s
love as we possibly can be, and help us to stay
there in that loving presence for a long time, because
pets can't talk. Those who love us and also can
talk are likely to say “I love you” with one breath
and “when are you going to do the dishes?” with
the next breath. Does that mean that the loved ones
who talk love us less?
I thank God for Miss
Gabbie, for Miss
Sparkie, and especially for Miss
Cathy, who can talk and love at the same time. I
thank God for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
who continues to both love and talk to me and anyone
else with ears to listen with.
Why bother? I'd rather just enjoy
the time that I have and will have with her.
Resurrection? Why bother? Here's
why: Because if God doesn't raise his Son, we stay
in the gutter, in the dark, trembling and hoping
to die soon to end our despair.
I'll tell you a story that is
true. Jesus lives. Born, murdered, born anew in
glory. Alive now. Talking, talking, talking. Can
We'll never be the same again.
and peace to you,