"Even if animals don't manifest the Logos or essence of the divine in the form of conscious rational ability in the way that humans can, this does not necessarily bar them from participation in the immortality of the divine life that so many traditions, from the archaic to the modern, promise awaits us. That's why Saint Francis could address all animals as if they were his brothers without fear of going against the truth he found in the scriptures, and it's why so many Eastern saints and holy people could treat animals as if they were their brethren as well.

"As if they were their brethren . . . Animals, said Henry Beston in the quote from The Outermost House . . . , are not our brethren — and he was right. Animals are different from us, but they are different in a way that doesn't separate us from them so much as it unites us in a common task and a common future. Animals are individuals. If every rabbit is Rabbit, if it is both an individual and a manifestation, at the same time, of its heavenly archetype, so all other animals are as well. But it takes little effort to see that there is a scale of individuality at work here: that each chimpanzee or gray whale is more uniquely itself than, say, each Atlantic salmon or green tree frog or (if we want to keep going) each fruit fly or paramecium. And it is not, I think, an insult to the animal community to suggest that we humans, if not the only beings on earth that are each born unique, nonetheless manifest this trait most profoundly and consequentially. We humans are, in a sense, the champions of individuality — a belief that the sages of Islam expressed by stating that each individual human being is in itself its own species.

"That's why animals — like Moose the Manatee and Little Bit the black bear — so often seem to become more individual, more distinct from their fellows, when they spend time with humans. If heaven is above all a place that is personal, then at our best we humans inspire animals to move ever closer to that heaven by allowing them to become ever more themselves in our presence. And they, in turn, do the same for us."