Remember the poem, “The Giving Tree”? We’ve all pretty much heard it at least once in our lives (usually when we are young kids). Well, I was reminded of it the other day…and as I listened to it, I was surprised by how much beauty is in this one little poem.
What really stood out to me was how the tree was ‘happy’ in giving itself to the boy. “’Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.’ And the boy did. And the tree was happy.” This doesn’t just apply to the tree in the poem, but I would say it applies to all creation…including the animals.
If we look back at the Garden, the animals were living with Adam. The animals did not have a separate area distinct from the first man. Man and animal lived together, and they were made to live together. The animals were made to be with man.
It was not supposed to end with God bringing the animals to man, man was to bring the animals back to God. The animals could approach God by fulfilling their nature in reproduction, locomotion, and sensation. But without man they cannot be complete, they cannot fully participate in a likeness to God.
Man can take in the animals through his physical senses and make it spirit through his intellect. Through conscious awareness, man lifts the animals back to God. It is man that gives voice to the animals. Man is the representative of all creation.
Like the tree in the poem, an animal’s highest ‘happiness’ is with man. Given that the animal is granted what is needed to fully live, an animal is truly ‘happy’ serving man. So, do you know where man finds his highest happiness?
 See Fr. Michael Gaitley, The One Thing is Three, 66-71