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Thought for the Week – 9th July 2023

Requiem for a bat

On Wednesday, I was put on the spot. Alex, from the Caring for God’s Acre team was visiting Billingsley churchyard to scythe the grass; some volunteers from the congregation had joined him and I had come to show moral support and consume the cake that had been provided. They also serve who stand and eat…

Whilst in earnest discussion about how to encourage more wild flowers, I was interrupted by one of our volunteers who was in a state of some excitation; whilst cleaning the church she had found a dead bat, which we have subsequently identified as Soprano Pipistrelle. We think it may have died of shock at observing 10 in church for the most recent 8am communion after 20 at the last evening service. But what then caught me off guard was when she asked me to pray for it, before we committed its remains to the ground. Do bats have souls? Is there a place in heaven for bats?? I quickly mumbled some words of thanksgiving for its life.

I have no idea if bats or any other creature (or indeed plant) has a soul; I leave such matters to God. But all living creatures are part of “creation”, the natural world that ultimately owes its existence to God, even though God works through the laws of physics and chemistry and evolution by natural selection. And the religious thinkers who wrote the creation poems in Genesis recognised a great truth, when they  said that the natural/created world was good, because it ultimately reflects the goodness of its creator/primary cause. So I am  glad I commended it to God in my brief prayer.

Rev David Poyner