“April showers bring May flowers” is a bit of bunny weather wisdom passed down through the generations. Another bunny adage is “if you don’t like the weather, wait a bit and it will change, but you might not like that either.” When I moved to Arkansas, I was warned by every bunny not to put up all of my seasonal clothes just because of a warm or a cool spell, since the weather would change back soon enough. I’m currently switching back and forth from the heat to the air conditioning in my condo.
The weather caught Mark Twain’s attention back in December, 1876, as he spoke to The New England Society’s annual dinner at Delmonico’s restaurant in New York City, as recorded in the New York Times newspaper.
“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. [Laughter.] It was I that made the fame and fortune of that man that had that marvelous collection of weather on exhibition at the Centennial that so astounded the foreigners. He was going to travel all over the world and get specimens from all the climes. I said, “Don’t you do it; you come to New England on a favorable spring day.”
I told him what we could do, in the way of style, variety, and quantity. [Laughter.] Well, he came, and he made his collection in four days. As to variety—why, he confessed that he got hundreds of kinds of weather that he had never heard of before. And as to quantity—well, after he had picked out and discarded all that was blemished in any way, he not only had weather enough, but weather to spare; weather to hire out; weather to sell; to deposit; weather to invest; weather to give to the poor. [Laughter.]
The people of New England are by nature patient and forbearing; but there are some things which they will not stand. Every year they kill a lot of poets for writing about Beautiful Spring.” [Laughter.] These are generally casual visitors, who bring their notions of spring from somewhere else, and cannot, of course, know how the natives feel about spring. And so, the first thing they know, the opportunity to inquire how they feel has permanently gone by. [Laughter.]”
This spring had a strange feel for us bunnies, for it’s the first in our great national experience of the coronavirus pandemic. Actually, it’s a worldwide experience, so it’s not just within our borders, but a disease that respects no person or bunny, no matter their age or social status. Yet life goes on, we bunnies must eat, governments must address this crisis, hospitals must treat the sick, and critical workers must show up to keep supply chains going. The bunnies who deliver bread, grocery items, and drive trucks never seemed so important than now.
In the midst of our dislocations, we see signs of spring—trees leafing out and flowers blooming. Always before we bunnies have seen these as signs of hope, and we have no reason to change. Every year the earth renews, even if the spring is late or early. The season’s timing isn’t up to us or even to a date on the calendar, but it comes when it’s ready. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven,” the writer of Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us. Phillip Larkin’s poem “The Trees” expresses a similar sentiment:
The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.
Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.
Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.
The great season of renewal in the Christian Church is celebrated on Easter. However in ordinary times, the bunny most in need of new life on Easter is the pastor, since the Energizer Bunny can’t hold a candle to a pastor in the usual throes of Holy Week celebrations in the Christian church. The great Bon Jovi, rock god and patron saint of all clergy once said, “You get to sleep when you’re dead.” The clergy are usually on a mad dash toward Easter and all its attendant excitement, not to mention the extra Holy Week services preceding the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. Therefore, I bring my bunny friends some very strong Turkish coffee, espresso roast, for your delight and fortitude.
The usual madhouse in the Christian church leading up to Easter Sunday is often filled with the adult choir cantata and the children’s musical program, plus the community Easter egg hunt, not to mention additional services weekly during Lent and more services for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunrise, and Easter Day. Then the energizer bunnies add in the food baskets for the home bound and the poor. In the small towns where I served, the family holidays often brought on added counseling, since some families put the “fun back into dysfunctional behaviors.” By the time we got to my Easter Sermon, often it was fueled by adrenaline and an excess of caffeine, and then I crashed for a day afterwards. My bunny battery had finally run out of juice.
A group of wild rabbits living together is called a fluffle or a colony. They aren’t solitary creatures, nor are we humans. Perhaps this is why bunnies are so easily anthropomorphized. Not only do we have Peter Rabbit from Beatrice Potter, but we have Bugs Bunny of Walt Disney fame. In the age of coronavirus, however, our meeting together in person has gone to the wayside for the sake of our health. After Mardi Gras on February 25, Louisiana reported its first case of covid-19 on March 9, and then we learned Arkansas’s first case of coronavirus in Jefferson County, confirmed on March 11, had been in New Orleans for Marci Gras. New Orleans is now a regional hot spot, and Louisiana has been declared a disaster area due to the novel coronavirus.
Even before the Arkansas Governor’s declaration of a public health emergency on March 11th and his order to close the schools and public meeting places on March 15, 2020, an Arkansas church held an event for children on the weekend of March 6-8. Many who attended became ill with the virus, including the deacon and pastor, according to a Facebook post on behalf of the church. As of March 29, three church members have died of the coronavirus. At the time of the event, however, the state had no confirmed cases of coronavirus. Staying home as much as possible will help prevent future spread of the coronavirus, which is highly contagious and can be spread by persons who don’t appear to be symptomatic.
How will we bunnies celebrate the resurrection this year? Perhaps it’s best to see our empty church as a symbol of the empty tomb—just as the tomb could not hold the resurrected Christ, the church can’t hold the renewed Christian body. We are still the body of Christ even if we aren’t inside the church, and Christ can use our hands to change the world for the sake of his kingdom.
As we face a troubled time, we can still experience the disciples’ loss of hope when they saw their leader taken away, imprisoned, and crucified. Even when they saw the empty tomb, they didn’t believe in the resurrection, but only that Jesus was no longer there, for someone had removed him. The disciples went into hiding, or went back to their old gigs. Only the women believed in his resurrection, because they saw him and heard him.
In this day and age, every bunny may have times of lost hope. They’ll “hang the crepe,” as my nanny would say, in preparation for the impending death to come. “Things will never be the same again!” There will be bunnies who wail and moan, as they gnash their teeth and predict the end of life as we know it.
Perhaps life as we once knew it needed to change! All living systems change, if they want to live on, so we will also change and live. Were there injustices of economics and access in the world before coronavirus? Just as in the pre Dust Bowl era, some workers had few protections in dangerous industries, now some workers have few lifelines due to the gig economy. If we can’t protect our most fragile bunnies, our whole fluffle will be harmed. The good we can wrest from this bad situation is to reassess our vulnerabilities and strengthen our communities for the future, for we bunnies are best when we all pull together.
If this year we forego the fluffle gathering around the family ham, and instead share ham sandwiches over FaceTime, let’s share a blessing over this meal too. If we insist on family togetherness, we might all be in the hospital together, and run the risk of sickening those who care for the community. We can Easter egg hunt at thanksgiving, if we just have to, or maybe Labor Day. The coronavirus will pick the timeline for our traditions.
Remember your family systems teachings: when the in laws and out laws start putting their two cents in, don’t have unreasonable expectations of harmony. This leads to unfulfilled desires, tensions, and meltdowns worse than a marshmallow peep on a hot stovetop.
My measured guess is we bunnies don’t sleep enough to have our brain cells fire completely, or we aren’t drinking good enough coffee. More sleep and good coffee might cure most of our stress. Not trying to force square pegs into round holes would solve the rest.
I hope my clergy pals in the bunny world scheduled some time off after Easter. You deserve it! For myself, I keep the same schedule seven days a week, even if I’m retired. I work on my creative projects in the mornings and do errands and housework in the afternoon. Keeping an orderly life, eating regularly scheduled meals, and staying engaged with the world for the sake of Christ and his mission helps me keep a steady perspective on life. I hope each of you take the time to reflect on what will work for you.
Stay healthy, my bunnies, I love you.
Joy and Peace,
Basic Rabbit Facts—https://rabbit.org/basic-rabbit-facts/
Mark Twain Weather Speech—http://www.twainquotes.com/18761223.html
The Isenheim Altarpiece—https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/the-isenheim-altarpiece-colmar-france