When he says he will turn himself from a bunny into a fish and slip away from her into a stream, his mother simply says that she will become a fisherman and catch him again. He tells her he will become a rock, hidden high on a mountain or a crocus planted in a garden and she calmly and lovingly tells him that she will become a mountain climber or gardener and will take care of him wherever he is. After a number of these loving scenes, the little bunny claims he will become a little boy and run into a house. She tells him, “I will become your mother and catch you in my arms and hug you.” In the end, faced with so much faithful love, the little bunny relents and tells his mother that he might as well stay home and be her little bunny.
The book is often tied to Psalm 139, (“Where can I hide from your spirit? From your presence, where can I flee?”) but I think of it today with Paul’s letter to the Romans.
Like the little bunny who thought he could run away from his mother’s love, we often have a sense that God can’t really love us that much because we’re not that loveable, not quite ready or perfect. We imagine God having the same human limitations we have in our ability to love. Paul simply says that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ. Not “anguish, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril or the sword.” Jesus is with us in any anguish and distress and stays with us in it, holding us close and comforting us.
But often we can’t feel that loving presence because we are too aware of our own flaws: impatience with our children, disappointment in our spouse and marriage, an awareness of how quickly we fill the emptiness in our lives with alcohol, drugs, or more material things. The impossible idea for us to realize is that Jesus loves us with our flaws, endlessly and without limits. We are loved in ways we can’t imagine simply because each one of us has been “loved into being,” by God.
The bunny in the story tried to test the limits of his mother’s love, telling her over and over again that he would run away from her. He finally realized that nothing, nothing would keep her from following him, protecting and loving him. In this simple child’s tale, we can see again that even in our most unattractive moments, our most grief-filled or angry or stubborn ones, God is loving us back into wholeness, for no other reason than that God loves us and holds us dear. That is a reality, and even if we don’t recognize it, we can’t run away from it.
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