17th January 2018

Charlotte’s Tree

The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter.”
2 Samuel 12:3 (NLT)

Malus coronaria var. dasycalyx f. ‘Charlottae’ is known as Charlotte’s Tree in our garden. In late Spring, large, semi-double, peachy-pink flowers appear, supposedly violet-scented; followed by large sticky, but startlingly shiny ‘crab-apples’ in a dark ‘Granny Smith’ green. It’s a special tree, discovered in America in 1902, and was planted in our garden for a special cat – our caramel tortie Cornish Rex – named by her breeder after the barn spider in the children’s novel, “Charlotte’s Web.”

Those whose pets have been an integral part of their family will understand the deep sense of loss that can occur when a beloved animal has died; compounded by the hugely difficult and emotional decision to euthanize, making life and death decisions about a living thing. Research recognises the loss of an animal as being comparable to the loss of a human loved one – which no doubt comes as a shock to non-pet owners. Companion pets are also known to grieve and be depressed at the death of a fellow four-legged furry friend.

Considering the history of animals becoming pets is relatively short[i], ie pampered and living indoors – it will come as no surprise that the Bible is mostly silent on animals as pets. Though the quoted passage above is an analogy for David’s murder by proxy of his loyal subject Uriah the Hittite, it nevertheless acknowledges the relationship that can form between a human being and an animal. Reading onwards in verses 4-13, you can see David’s response, considered ‘over the top’ for Mosaic law, but which recognises the depth of this connection.

Even so, several passages do illustrate God’s view on animals. In Genesis 9:8-17, we note that God made a covenant with every living creature on earth—not just Noah/mankind. One wonders if animals recognise the significance of rainbows! Ecclesiastes 3:19 informs us that man and animals have the same breath – we both die and return to dust. We are told that God loves both man and animals, (Psalm 36:5-6). Besides enriching our lives, animals point towards God and His creation, (Job 12:7-11).

Key questions such as “Will we see our pets again?”, “Do they have a future?”, and “Will they be resurrected?” remain unanswered. But for anyone who has cried over the loss of a furry family member, we can take comfort that one day there will be no more death, or mourning, or crying, or pain, (Revelation 21:4-5).

For us, no more neatly laid out recently deceased voles in our dining room; headless rabbits on the living room rug; rats running down the corridor used to play ping-pong against the skirting boards; or the odd mole or squirrel who died a sudden death. I will no longer experience the morning ritual of being wakened by a friendly head butt, or my beloved cat dropping herself on to my chest to have her super-soft curly-haired tummy tickled. The stark absence of her presence and vocal personality are immediate in our household and for this we grieve. She will be buried by her namesake tree, Charlotte.

Thank you, God, for the love you give us through your animals that you created. Help us through the times of loss when they are gone.

Study by Irene Tibbenham


About the Author:
Irene Tibbenham is a Deaconess and serves on the Pastoral Council in the Norwich Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK, a part of Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Norwich
New Hope Christian Centre
Martineau Lane

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 01508 498165
Mobile: 07931 580409
Email: tony_goudie@wcg.org.uk

[i] https://daily.jstor.org/the-invention-of-pets/


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