Rosie the dog, who you can see in this photo, is in fact quite a regular visitor to Swanvale Halt church. Alan often brings her to the 8am Mass as it fits in with their Sunday morning walk. This week, however, they came to the 10am service, and Rosie was not the only beast present as we'd taken the plunge and held our first Pet Blessing in three years. She was joined, then, by a plethora of canines, a rabbit, a hen and a tortoise; Marion the curate's cat had made herself scarce so she was not in attendance as planned. Once upon a time I was somewhat disdainful of Pet Services, but my resistance has been eroded by conversations with people about their pets and thinking more about the theology of creation and the role of animals: the ways in which we human beings are simultaneously similar to and different from them. In my talk I described how our human work involved speaking for the whole of creation and bringing it consciously before God, and how thanks to the Fall we had to learn slowly and painfully to be kind to each other and to animals too. It was striking that so many people came, including some families we haven't seen for ages, visitors from an evangelical congregation not far away, and folk I didn't know at all.
A vegetarian family who know Marion well took her to task for going home to chicken for Sunday lunch. I decided not to mention the pheasant I was going to be eating which Rosie's owner Alan had shot a few months before and which had sat in my freezer ever since. It had its revenge in the form of a lead pellet I bit on (at least, the one I found).