“I will become a little sailboat,
and I will sail away from you.”
“If you become a sailboat and sail away from me,”
said his mother, “I will become the wind…”
The Runaway Bunny, Margaret Wise Brown
“Am I late?” she breathes as she whirls into the room, a hurricane of red hair with bags–school, lunch, athletic–hanging from all her limbs.
“You’re actually not,” I reply, the actually alluding to the reality that she’s often late to Period One, this girl who lives within walking distance.
“Yes!” she squeals, sliding into her desk just as the bell rings.
“But are you ready for your devotion?”
Students do the devotions every Thursday in Period One American Literature. The other days, we’ve read C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce or discussed questions of faith, but Thursdays are Devotional Show-And-Tell, in which students bring in “artifacts of faith” to share, and explain its personal meaning to the class. I once read a poem and one boy showed a video, but mostly we’ve listened to songs. It’s been a predictably nice, if not always life-changing, way to begin our Thursdays together.
Today it’s her turn, and she grins. “Oh yes! I am ready!”
“Are you playing a song?” I ask, ready to find lyrics or a Youtube music video for her.
“No,” she says, pulling a slim, brightly colored book from her bag. “I have something different.” She makes her way to the front of the classroom. “It would be best, really, if we were all sitting on the floor.”
The class raises its collective eyebrows. On the floor? We just got here, and we’re only barely awake. Please, don’t make us move yet.
“Do you want us to sit on the floor?” I ask her.
“Um… yes! Let’s do it,” she says, upon which the obedient class shuffles to the space between the front row and the front wall, and sits. We’re comically wedged under and in front of desks, awaiting this unconventional devotion, when she opens her book–Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown–which has a picture of a rabbit on the front.
“So, this is a book that my dad read to me every night when I was little. And it’s about a bunny and his mom and… well, I’ll just read it.” And with that, she begins to read:
Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away.
So he said to his mother, “I am running away.”
“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you.
For you are my little bunny.”
The skeptical class is captivated, and so am I, as she reads aloud the journeys of the escape-artist bunny, whose mother is always just on his fluffy white tail. He transforms to a fish, and she catches him. He becomes a rock at the top of a mountain, and she climbs up after him. He joins the circus as a trapeze artist, and she appears below him on the tightrope. Wherever he goes, there she is.
I am struck by the intertwined lovelinesses of this simple story and the moment this young woman decided to come to school and share it with us. She ends with an interpretation, (“…Even though this is so cheesy,” she disclaims) explaining how God is the mother rabbit, and we’re the ones running away.
Though the last few weeks at school have been beautiful in many ways–full of thunderstorms, running and my students’ written reflections–I’m also more aware these days of the “runaway bunnies” that I encounter here at school. I so deeply desire that they’ll know and be rooted in Christ’s love, that in their many, many questions they’ll come upon the one answer that will give them the peace and security they’re looking for. Until then, I remember to pray, comforted in this early-morning reminder that even in our places of darkness, He is with us.Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. Psalm 139:7-10
Thank you, Jesus, for chasing us.