“The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.  The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.  The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.  They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:6-9). 

I beg your forgiveness for the disjointed, unpolished, and sentimental nature of this post but it is typed through tears.

What is an ode? In English culture, an ode is typically a lyrical verse written in praise of, or dedicated to someone or something which captures the poet’s interest or serves as an inspiration for the ode.

Who is Clara? She is our “tortie” female cat. She has been a faithful friend to Rebekah for over 16 years and to Samuel and me for nearly 3. In the last 18 months in particular, it has been disheartening and even gut wrenching to watch Clara’s physical strength and health fade to the point where she became almost motionless and incapacitated. Between her diabetes, arthritis and, finally, renal failure, she became but a “shell” of her former self. Her energy and vigor dissipated but there was still a sparkle in her dimming and cloudy eyes. It was the gleam of unconditional love. Isaiah’s words above describe the culmination of kingdom of God. And I don’t think it coincidental that he features animals to give us a glimpse into the happiness, peace, and love that will be present there. Strikingly similar, I think, to the comfort, tranquility, and devotion that Clara has blessed us with.

Clara passed away today and there is real grief and many tears in the Wolfe household. I’ve often wondered why we sometimes ache and suffer more over animals than people. Although we shouldn’t, I think I can explain it. Our pets have never done us wrong. They have never criticized, intentionally wounded, or abandoned us. They delight in us no matter how we have behaved and lived. They love us in such an exhaustive sense, in way that we rarely see among people. Actually, the way they adore and treasure us is probably one of the best images of the way God loves, and ultimately showed that in Jesus – the One who lived the life we couldn’t live and died the death that we deserved so that we might have abundant and eternal life in Him.

I don’t pretend to be a poet – not even close. What is to follow will be technically poor and, to many, somewhat silly. But it is from the heart. The intent is to capture something in this precious creature that will memorialize her, although I admit a total inability to do so. It is a feeble attempt, but a worthwhile effort no less, to define the essence of a cherished animal who, as many of you have experienced with your own pets, became an integral part in the fabric of our lives. For those who have or had such beloved furry friends, you will also know how much the way they give and love points us to a God who gives and loves beyond measure and imagination, who prizes us to infinity.

And now for the ode: 

Sounds of affection – always waiting and ever longing

For a word, a touch – with gazing eyes her adoration sharing

Looking with pure gladness and resting in perfect peace

Constantly delighted and satisfied in her family’s presence 

Her hurting and weakness and sickness have ceased

In living and loving she was forever most pleased

Blessed were those on whom she lavished her love

To have learned from her more of Grace from above 

Clara is on her couch no more but hasn’t ventured far

Even though she has vanished now from our earthly sight

She remains as close as her stare and reassuring purr

As she will always be embedded in our memory and our heart 

Good bye, our sweet friend. You will never be replaced. You have loved and been loved in an extraordinary way and we know in our hearts that loving will never end. Rest in perfect peace, ClaraBugs. You deserve it.