A Bunny Story.
Some months ago, our sweet neighbor’s daughter and grandchildren came to us with Rocky the baby flying squirrel who’d been caught by their cat. Now, Rocky was in bad shape but Sherod’s success as the squirrel whisperer gave our friends hope for this injured little creature. The story did not end well, but we took good care of little Rocky while we had him, and understood that in the country, that’s how it goes sometimes. A bit of time went by, and as winter became spring in fits and starts here in Alabama, another crisis. This time, our friend’s dog–a great big ‘ole dog–was found to have a baby bunny in his mouth. The bunny was rescued, and, because bunnies become more self-reliant much sooner than squirrels, he was released back out in the woods to find his way to a life worth living. A couple of weeks ago, it happened again. The bunny. The dog. The mouth. The way I heard it told, the dog has such a big mouth it was like a cavern with a pair of bright eyes peeping out from way inside. Bunnies can holler to make your skin crawl, and he wasn’t about to stay in that mouth! Again, the little bunny was rescued, and this time, kept at home with a pair of young twins to watch over him.
You have to know your Bible pretty well to know what name fits when, and around here, people do. Surely, that little bunny could have swapped stories with someone who was once swallowed by a whale. It’s only right then, that his name is Jonah. One day, his human friends hope to release Jonah back into the woods. For now, though, he likes being held.A Donkey Story.
It’s a long-held tradition at Ascension that a donkey is part of the procession on Palm Sunday. In fact, for many years there were two donkeys that walked with a certain stateliness down the aisle. They were devoted siblings who had always been together; it seemed unkind to choose one over the other for such an important occasion. What’s more, all that loud All Glory, Laud and Honor and palm waving would be disconcerting to a simple country animal. And surely, it is good for a donkey to not be alone. So down the aisle they came, side by side, and then out the south transept door, their work done for another year. This year, the two fellows have a new set of humans to tend to them, friends who do not have a trailer, so the donkey boys pretty much stay put.
For weeks, we advertised on Facebook and through Constant Contact E-news bulletins for a donkey. For weeks, all we got was dead ends. Andy, our rector, thought he might dress up as a bull (he has this great bull outfit). Others suggested the Papier-mâché camel on wheels we use for our Epiphany parade and blessing of the thresholds. Then on Thursday, a break: a short text announcing “Who do I need to talk to; I think I have a donkey”. A flurry of communications later, this morning, Durwood the Donkey joined in the procession. He was a good sport about a walk he didn’t particularly enjoy, but he minded his humans, delighted us all (and had no accidents—whew!). The children were beyond thrilled, greeting a gentle, forbearing, new friend.
Here’s what got to me: I stopped to thank one of his humans before the service started. All around us, people were waving palmetto fronds and he wanted me to listen to something important about them. He pointed to one and said, “those palms there saved my kin”. He went on to explain that in the worst of the Depression in the 30’s, the Porch Band of Creek people suffered death-dealing hunger. While people around them got government assistance for food, his kin did not. It was the root of the Palmetto Palm, carefully dug out, peeled, boiled, and mashed, that sustained his great-grandparents, and grandparents, through those brutal years. To this day, it is a staple for this man and his family.
I’m not exactly sure why these tiny little stories are the ones that continue to knit me more and more thoroughly into this place which is my home. The humor. The hardship. The stories that are so heart-breaking and so beautiful they make it hard to breathe for a moment. The silenced voices, as well the squeaking and hollering voices of squirrels and bunnies, all crying for salvation. On this Palm Sunday, the ones I hear and the ones I don’t but are surely waiting for someone to listen, make real the original Hebrew meaning of “Hosanna”: “I beg you to save me”…