A CEREMONY OF LIGHT

This very special service was first held at the BMDCA Specialty 2006
In Loving Memory of our Bernese Mountain Dogs and other pets
who are now at the Rainbow Bridge


With many thanks to Walt and Libby Smith

and to everyone who has since shared their very special poems and memories,
copied below



Leader: We gather tonight to honor and remember those precious spirits that have touched our souls and enlightened our lives. Their memory remains. We are saddened. Yet, somehow we know that we will meet again as together we enter eternity. In this ceremony of light we share in the warmth of candlelight and amongst friends a message of love, a sense of healing, and the faith to believe.

<<Pause>>

Eternal God, Creator of all living things, we ask that as each candle is lighted, the healing warmth of your love will flow into our broken hearts and that the clouds of grief and sorrow will begin to lift. We thank you for the precious gift of their faithfulness and their unconditional love as a reflection of your faithfulness and unconditional love. AMEN.

The Gift of Creation
A Reading from Genesis
God said, 'Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven." And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth." And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. And God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so." And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
(Genesis 1:20-25)
Here ends the Reading

<<Pause>>

Hear now the story of how dog got its name with a lovely poem by an unknown author entitled "The Creation".

When God had made the earth and sky
the flowers and the trees,
He then made all the animals
the fish, the birds and bees.
And when at last He'd finished
not one was quite the same.
He said, "I'll walk this world of mine
and give each one a name."

And so He traveled far and wide
and everywhere He went,
a little creature followed Him
until it's strength was spent.

When all were named upon the earth
and in the sky and sea,
the little creature said, "Dear Lord,
there's not one left for me."
Kindly the Father said to him,
"I've left you to the end.
I've turned my own name back to front
and called you dog, My friend."
Author Unknown

The Gift of Creation Candle is lighted.
While the candle is being lighted, the one lighting the candle says:
I light this candle in thanksgiving for all of creation, but especially for God's creation of dog whose name reminds us that he is but a mirror image of his creator's faithfulness and unconditional love. AMEN.

The Gift of Hope
A reading from Genesis
God said, "When I gather the clouds over the earth and the bow appears in the clouds, I shall recall the covenant between myself and you and every living creature, in a word all living things, and never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all living things. When the bow is in the clouds I shall see it and call to mind the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth, that is, all living things. That" God told Noah, "is the sign of the covenant I have established between myself and all living things on earth."
(Genesis 9:14-17)
Here ends the reading.

<<Pause>>

Hear now the hopeful and inspiring story of The Rainbow Bridge

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together

Author unknown

The Gift of Hope Candle is lighted.

While the candle is being lighted, the one lighting the candle says:
Thank you, Lord, for the ever-present gift of hope that assures me that one day I will be reunited with those with whom I have walked life's journey; and, that we will again laugh and cry and rejoice never to be parted again. AMEN.
The Gift of Love A reading from Luke
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.
(Luke 12:6)
Here ends the reading.

<<Pause>>

Hear now a Tribute to a Best Friend by an unknown author

Tribute To A Best Friend

Sunlight streams through window pane
unto a spot on the floor....
then I remember,
it's where you used to lie,
but now you are no more.

Our feet walk down a hall of carpet,
and muted echoes sound....
then I remember,
It's where your paws
would joyously abound.

A voice is heard along the road,
and up beyond the hill,
then I remember
it can't be yours....
your golden voice is still.

But I'll take that vacant spot of floor
and empty muted hall
and lay them with the absent voice
and unused dish along the wall.
I'll wrap these treasured memorials
in a blanket of my love
and keep them for my best friend
until we meet above.
Author Unknown

The Gift of Love Candle is lighted.
While the candle is being lighted, the one lighting the candle says:
Heavenly Father, you looked at creation and called it good; you looked at humankind, fallen from Grace and, with unconditional love, offered redemption; you gave us a companion that never fell from Grace and called him dog; and you endowed him with the ability to show us unconditional love. We ask that you embrace those who grieve the loss of that special spirit and comfort us with your grace and the knowledge that you will not forget even one. AMEN.

The leader now lights a candle in memory of a lost pet and places the lighted candle in the sand box and invites others to do the same, saying,
I invite each of you to come forward and light a candle in memory of your special friend waiting at The Rainbow Bridge. You may do so in silence, by just mentioning his or her name, or by sharing a special story about your special furry companion.

As much time as needed is allowed for lighting the individual candles.

After the last one has been remembered by the lighting of a candle, the leader says,
Our precious friends have embarked on a journey to a place free from pain. Their departure leaves an emptiness to be filled with grace and the support of loving friends who shared the unconditional love of dog, a precious gift who is the mirror image of the creator.

A brief period of silence follows after which the leader says,
"Blessed are all who mourn, for they will be comforted."
Good and faithful Lord, as we stand in the light and warmth of these candles, we thank you for your gift of unconditional love, your grace and comfort in time of grief, and this supportive and loving community. Help us to reach out to each other and to support each other with the same unconditional love with which we have been blessed. AMEN.




Below are some of the stories, thoughts, and prayers many found helpful in dealing with their grief over the death of their beloved companion.


A Little Dog Angel By Noah M. Holland

High up in the courts of heaven today
a little dog angel waits;
with the other angels he will not play,
but he sits alone at the gates.
"For I know my master will come" says he,
"and when he comes he will call for me."
The other angels pass him by
As they hurry toward the throne,
And he watches them with a wistful eye
as he sits at the gates alone.
"But I know if I just wait patiently
that someday my master will call for me."
And his master, down on earth below,
as he sits in his easy chair,
forgets sometimes, and whispers low
to the dog who is not there.
And the little dog angel cocks his ears
and dreams that his master's voice he hears.
And when at last his master waits
outside in the dark and cold,
for the hand of death to open the door,
that leads to those courts of gold,
he will hear a sound through the gathering dark,
a little dog angel's bark.

* * * * *

A Prayer for Animals By Albert Schweitzer

Hear our humble prayer, O God, for our friends, the animals, especially for those who are suffering; for any that are lost or deserted or frightened or hungry. We entreat for them all Thy mercy and pity, and for those who deal with them, we ask a heart of compassion and gentle hands and kindly words. Make us, ourselves, to be true friends to animals and so to share the blessings of the merciful.

* * * *

"Beau"

He never came to me when I would call
Unless I had a tennis ball,
Or he felt like it,
But mostly he didn't come at all.
When he was young
He never learned to heel
Or sit or stay,
He did things his way.
Discipline was not his bag
But when you were with him
things sure didn't drag.
He'd dig up a rosebush
just to spite me,
And when I'd grab him,
he'd turn and bite me.
He bit lots of folks from day to day,
The delivery boy was his favorite prey.
The gas man wouldn't read our meter,
He said we owned a real man-eater.
He set the house on fire
But the story's long to tell.
Suffice it to say that he survived
And the house survived as well.
On the evening walks, and Gloria took him,
He was always first out the door.
The Old One and I brought up the rear
Because our bones were sore.
We would charge up the street with Mom hanging on,
What a beautiful pair they were!
And if it was still light and the tourists were out,
They created a bit of a stir.
But every once in awhile,
he would stop in his tracks
And with a frown on his face look around.
It was just to make sure that the Old One was there
And would follow him where he was bound.
We are early-to-bedders at our house --
I guess I'm the first to retire.
And as I'd leave the room he'd look at me
And get up from his place by the fire.
He knew where the tennis balls were upstairs
And I'd give him one for awhile.
He would push it under the bed with his nose
And I'd fish it out with a smile.
And before very long
He'd tire of the ball
And be asleep in his corner
In no time at all.
And there were nights when I'd feel him
Climb upon our bed
And lie between us,
And I'd pat his head.
And there were nights when I'd feel this stare
And I'd wake up and he'd be sitting there
And I'd reach out my hand and stroke his hair.
And sometimes I'd feel him sigh
and I think I know the reason why.
He would wake up at night
And he would have this fear
Of the dark, of life, of lots of things,
And he'd be glad to have me near.

And now he's dead.
And there are nights when I think I feel him
Climb upon our bed
and lie between us,
And I pat his head.
And there are nights when I think I feel that stare
And I reach out my hand to stroke his hair,
But he's not there.
Oh, how I wish that wasn't so,
I'll always love a dog named Beau.
Jimmy Stewart 1908-1997

* * * * *

Dogs In Heaven?

An old man and his dog were walking down this dirt road with fences on both sides, they came to a gate in the fence and looked in, it was nice grassy, woody areas, just what a 'huntin' dog and man would like, but, it had a sign saying 'no trespassing' so they walked on. They came to a beautiful gate with a person in white robes standing there. "Welcome to Heaven" he said. The old man was happy and started in with his dog following him. The gatekeeper stopped him. "Dogs aren't allowed, I'm sorry but he can't come with you."

"What kind of Heaven won't allow dogs? If he can't come in, then I will stay out with him. He's been my faithful companion all his life, I can't desert him now."

"Suit yourself, but I have to warn you, the Devil's on this road and he'll try to sweet talk you into his area, he'll promise you anything, but the dog can't go there either. If you won't leave the dog, you'll spend Eternity on this road."

So the old man and dog went on. They came to a rundown fence with a gap in it, no gate, just a hole. Another old man was inside. "S'cuse me Sir, my dog and I are getting mighty tired, mind if we come in and sit in the shade for awhile?"

"Of course, there's some cold water under that tree over there. Make yourselves comfortable"

"You're sure my dog can come in? The man down the road said dogs weren't allowed anywhere."

"Would you come in if you had to leave the dog?"

"No sir, that's why I didn't go to Heaven, he said the dog couldn't come in. We'll be spending Eternity on this road, and a glass of cold water and some shade would be mighty fine right about now. But, I won't come in if my buddy here can't come too, and that's final."

The man smiled a big smile and said "Welcome to Heaven."

"You mean this is Heaven? Dogs ARE allowed? How come that fellow down the road said they weren't?"

"That was the Devil and he gets all the people who are willing to give up a life long companion for a comfortable place to stay. They soon find out their mistake, but then it's too late. The dogs come here, the fickle people stay there. GOD wouldn't allow dogs to be banned from Heaven. After all, HE created them to be man's companions in life, why would he separate them in death?"

Author Unknown

* * * *

Dogs Don't Have Souls, Do They? By Chuck Wells

I remember bringing you home. You were so small and cuddly with your tiny paws and soft fur. You bounced around the room with eyes flashing and ears flopping. Once in a while, you'd let out a little yelp just to let me know this was your territory. Making a mess of the house and chewing on everything in sight became a passion, and when I scolded you, you just put your head down and looked up at me with those innocent eyes, as if to say, "I'm sorry, but I'll do it again as soon as you're not watching."

As you got older, you protected me by looking out the window and barking at everyone who walked by. When I had a tough day at work, you would be waiting for me with your tail wagging just to say, "Welcome home. I missed you."

"You never had a bad day, and I could always count on you to be there for me. When I sat down to read the paper and watch TV, you would hop on my lap, looking for attention. You never asked for anything more than for me to pat your head so you could go to sleep with your head over my leg. As you got older, you moved around more slowly.

Then, one day, old age finally took its toll, and you couldn't stand on those wobbly legs anymore. I knelt down and patted you lying there, trying to make you young again. You just looked up at me as if to say you were old and tired and that after all these years of not asking for anything, you had to ask me for one last favor. With tears in my eyes, I drove you one last time to the vet. One last time, you were lying next to me.

For some strange reason, you were able to stand up in the animal hospital, perhaps it was your sense of pride. As the vet led you away, you stopped for an instant, turned your head and looked at me as if to say, "Thank you for taking care of me.

I thought, "No... thank you for taking care of me."

* * * * *


The Power of the Dog by Rudyard Kipling

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie--
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart to a dog to tear.
When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find--it's your own affair--
But ... you've given your heart to a dog to tear.
When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone--wherever it goes--for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.
We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-term loan is as bad as a long--
So why in--Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

* * * * *

Dinah in Heaven by Rudyard Kipling

She did not know that she was dead
But, when the pang was o'er,
Sat down to wait her Master's tread
Upon the Golden Floor,
With ears full-cock and anxious eyes,
Impatiently resigned;
But ignorant that Paradise
Did not admit her kind.
There was one step along the Stair
That led to Heaven's Gate;
And, till she heard it, her affair
Was -- she explained -- to wait.
And she explained with flattened ear,
Bared lip and milky tooth--
Storming against Ithuriel's Spear
That only proved her truth!
Sudden -- far down the Bridge of Ghosts
That anxious spirits clomb--
She caught that step in all the hosts,
And knew that he had come.
She left them wondering what to do,
But not a doubt had she.
Swifter than her own squeal she flew
Across the Glassy Sea;
Flushing the Cherubs everywhere,
And skidding as she ran,
She refuged under Peter's Chair
And waited for her man.
There spoke a Spirit out of the press,
'Said: -- "Have you any here
That saved a fool from drunkenness,
And a coward from his fear?
"That turned a soul from dark to day
When other help was vain;
That snatched it from Wanhope
and made A cur a man again?"
"Enter and look," said Peter then,
And set the Gate ajar.
"If I know aught of women and men
I trow she is not far."
"Neither by virtue, speech nor art
Nor hope of grace to win;
But godless innocence of heart
That never heard of sin:
"Neither by beauty nor belief
Nor white example shown.
Something a wanton --
more a thief --
But -- most of all -- mine own."
"Enter and look," said Peter then,
"And send you well to speed;
But, for all that I know of women and men
Your riddle is hard to read."
Then flew Dinah from under the Chair,
Into his arms she flew --
And licked his face from chin to hair
And Peter passed them through!

* * * * *

A Bridge Called Love

It takes us back to brighter years,
to happier sunlit days
and to precious moments
that will be with us always.
And these fond recollections
are treasured in the heart
to bring us always close to those
from whom we had to part.
There is a bridge of memories
from earth to Heaven above...
It keeps our dear ones near us
It's the bridge that we call love.
Author Unknown

* * * * *

Beyond The Rainbow

As much as I loved the life we had and all the times we played,
I was so very tired and knew my time on earth would fade.
I saw a wondrous image then of a place that's trouble-free
Where all of us can meet again to spend eternity.
I saw the most beautiful Rainbow, and on the other side
Were meadows rich and beautiful -- lush and green and wide!
And running through the meadows as far as the eye could see
Were animals of every sort as healthy as could be!
My own tired, failing body was fresh and healed and new
And I wanted to go run with them, but I had something left to do.
I needed to reach out to you, to tell you I'm alright
That this place is truly wonderful, then a bright Glow pierced the night.
'Twas the Glow of many Candles shining bright and strong and bold
And I knew then that it held your love in its brilliant shades of gold.
For although we may not be together in the way we used to be,
We are still connected by a cord no eye can see.
So whenever you need to find me, we're never far apart
If you look beyond the Rainbow and listen with your heart.
cg - 1995

* * * * *

The Rainbow Connection

Why are there so many songs about rainbows
And what's on the other side?
Rainbows are visions, but only illusions,
And rainbows have nothing to hide.
So we've been told and some choose to believe it
I know they're wrong, wait and see.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
The lovers, the dreamers and me.
Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
when wished on the morning star?
Somebody thought of that and someone believed it,
and look what it's done so far.
What's so amazing that keeps us stargazing?
And what do we think we might see?
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.
All of us under its spell, we know that it's probably magic...
Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices?
I've heard them calling my name.
Is this the sweet sound that calls the young sailors?
The voice might be one and the same.
I've heard it too many times to ignore it.
It's something that I'm supposed to be.
Someday we'll find it, the rainbow connection,
the lovers, the dreamers and me.
La, la la, La, la la la, La Laa, la la, La, La la laaaaaaa


* * * * *

Waiting Outside

I've explained to St. Peter I'd rather stay here
Outside the Pearly gate.
I won't be a nuisance, I won't even bark.
I'll be very patient - and wait.
I'll be here and chew a celestial bone,
No matter how long you may be.
I'd miss you so much - If I went alone,
It wouldn't be heaven for me.
Author Unknown

* * * * *

The Forever Pet by Suzanne Taylor

There' something missing in my home,
I feel it day and night,
I know it will take time and strength
Before things feel quite right.
But just for now need to mourn,
My heart - it needs to mend,
Though some may say it's "just a pet"
I know I've lost a friend.
You've brought such laughter to my home,
And richness to my days
A constant Friend through joy or loss,
With gentle, loving ways.
Companion, pal, and confidante,
A friend I won't forget,
You'll live always in my heart,
My sweet, forever pet.

* * * * *

Rosebud by John L. Moriarty

We know it’s soon,
So we squint in pained disbelief;
We know it’s time now
So we hold them tight
Against the darkness
We know it’s true
That
When they finally leave us
To go home,
They leave behind
No scarless space
No dry eyes;
But take with them
The welcoming jingle of their tags,
The up-turned eyes of anticipation and
That wildly lethal tail of joy;
As well as a goodly chunk of our soul
To hold close
To remember our smell,
To make sure
That we never forget them,
And to remind us
That they are waiting patiently,
As always,
For us to come home, too.





Click to enlarge this very special poem




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