Ashley asks out of the blue at the dinner table, "Do animals go to heaven?"
I set my fork down slowly, deliberately. I am frantically thinking the prayer with which all experienced parents are uncomfortably familiar. Please, for the love of all things caffeinated, in the next two seconds give me a brilliant answer that satisfies their curiosity without lying or saying too much!! (Why yes, this prayer does apply to everything from the tooth fairy to the birds and the bees, thank you for asking.)
And then, as I smiled and opened my mouth to improvise an answer that was sure to leave all of my daughters unsatisfied and possibly in tears, I was cut off by this adorable conversation....
Ashley: "Do animals go to heaven?"
Bethany: "How do you know?"
Hannah: "Because animals don't have souls, and only souls go to heaven."
Bethany: "I don't want to be sold to heaven!"
Ashley: "But Beth, it's ok to be sold to heaven, because when you get sold to heaven you are really, really expensive. And that's how you know that you are important!"
Hannah: "Am I expensive too?"
Ashley: "Yes, everybody is. Because it costs all of Jesus for us to be sold to heaven, and that is even more expensive than money, so it's like more than even a king or queen could pay."
Bethany: "Because Jesus died. That's how much it costs."
Bethany: "Why can't animals be sold to heaven too?"
Hannah: "Because they are not expensive enough!"
Bethany: "Oh. I see."
And everyone happily continues eating, completely content with their resolution of the question. Parent-prayer answered! And moments like this, when I get to sit back and watch my children embrace this God-given life with curiosity and intelligence and joy? They never, ever, ever get old.