a rabbit in a lawn with purple shrubs and flowers behind

photo: Creative Commons (Alex Proimos)

There are houses in this world which I call “TLC” houses. TLC stands for “tender loving care.” I call them TLC houses because to me they need someone to give them tender loving care. They are old, worn, tired… and sometimes even beginning to cave in. Usually, they look to me like no one lives there.

But, once there was this TLC house. And it was not abandoned; no, a little girl lived there with her grandmother. But it needed TLC for sure. The windows were grimy, with some of the glass showing cracks. The curtains were faded and worn. The house desperately needed a coat of paint and the porch sagged from years of wear. The gardens were all wild and overgrown, and the few toys in the yard had been broken and left there long ago.

And one spring day, when the sun was shining and the air was still, and it was warm enough to be outside, the girl went out and sat on the steps of her front porch. The sun felt warm on her skin and she smiled and breathed in the spring air and gazed about her. And then out of the corner of her eye, she saw something move in the side yard under a bush. She turned her head for a closer look and then it moved again with a sudden – hop! [BUNNY MAKE ENTRANCE FROM DOOR AT WEST OF CHANCEL].]– out into the still brown grass. … A bunny! [BUNNY START TO HEAD UP WEST AISLE TOWARD BACK OF SANCTUARY]

Still and quiet she watched it to see what it would do. It hopped down along the side yard towards the back and she had to get up, and tiptoe over to see where it went. [BUNNY HOP TO BACK OF SANCTUARY]

And when it got to the back of the yard, it slipped under the hedge and hopped out of sight. [BUNNY GO OUT SIDE REAR DOOR OF SANCTUARY AND GET LILY FROM VESTIBULE] So the girl began to tiptoe after it, but then suddenly it reappeared [BUNNY COME IN MIDDLE REAR DOORS] – with – and you might not believe this – but it was holding a potted lily! And it began to hop [BUNNY START COMING DOWN CENTER AISLE] right across the middle of the yard towards her, and in her astonishment she froze right where she was, hardly daring to breathe.

And as she watched, wide-eyed, the bunny placed the lily on the porch steps, [BUNNY PUT LILY ON EAST SIDE OF PULPIT] and then hopped away. [BUNNY HOP OUT OF SANCTUARY VIA DOOR TO EAST OF CHANCEL]

For a moment, she just blinked in disbelief at what had happened, and then she looked at the lily. Its freshness, its grace, its aliveness were so beautiful! Really, she could not remember seeing such a beautiful flower so close up. So she takes it inside to her grandmother.

“How beautiful,” remarks grandmother, and they decide to put the lily on the kitchen table by the window, where they can enjoy it. But the windowsill really needs some dusting first, so grandmother gets out a dustrag. And once the sill is dusted, my goodness, how dirty the window seems! So the girl wipes it clean. How much better that is!

Well, but then there’s the kitchen table, all cluttered with papers and things, and come to think of it, grandmother wonders to herself, When was the last time I swept and mopped the floors?

And you know, the two of them really get inspired to do cleaning chores! They crank up the radio and sing along with the tunes on grandma’s oldies station while they clean and straighten and sort and organize throughout the entire house for most of that day!

And you know what? They found all sorts of things that had gone missing: various papers, odd socks, jewelry, loose change!

And that was just the beginning!

Bit by bit, over a few days, the house starts to show a kind of glow, a kind of life it hadn’t shown in a l-o-n-g time! And you know what? It’s not just the house that’s glowing. Grandmother and the girl start to feel a new kind of brightness in their spirits.

It’s like they and their home are experiencing a kind of – resurrection – a kind of freshness, liveliness, newness in their lives. It’s like everything had been blah and ho-hum before and now it’s full of life in a wonderful way that hadn’t been there before. That’s what resurrection is.

For example, it’s great having the kitchen table neat and clear and when the girl brings work home from school, now there is a place to do it. And when she’s thinking, she gazes the window – now so clean – and if her eye catches sight of the lily, she smiles. She doesn’t seem to notice that its blooms have begun to brown at the edges, and curl more with the beginnings of decay.

Homework was not one of her strong points, but now, she’s hardly ever losing it, and usually getting it all done. This helps her feel happier about school, and the other kids notice, because she’s smiling so much now. This is what confidence looks like! The other kids invite her to play at recess, which they hardly did before, and now recess is such fun!

So she invites one of her new friends for a play date one day. Her grandmother cleans up extra for that. While the two kids are playing out in the front yard, grandmother comes out to sit on the steps to watch them. She’s so happy for her granddaughter that she can’t help but smile. And you know, that smile is noticed by the neighbor, who’s out raking his yard.

“Hey, how are you?” he calls, walking over, “Happy springtime! I haven’t seen you in months! How’s things?” The two of them get to chatting while the kids play nearby. She thinks to herself how good it feels to chat with her neighbor, while they talk about the weather and neighborhood business and this and that. In fact they are all so engaged with each other, that no one notices the bunny that has snuck into the yard to nibble the fresh clover [BUNNY RE-ENTER VIA DOOR TO EAST OF CHANCEL AND MIME NIBBLING. NIBBLE TILL END OF STORY.]

Weeks and weeks later, the lily has all gone by and dried up. Cleaning the kitchen, the girl gives it a wistful look, then casually takes it out to the compost pile. She’s got to get ready for an overnight at a friend’s house and guess what? Her grandmother has a date herself: the neighbor is taking her out for dinner. And the bunny has all the clover anyone could ever want. New life is a good thing!

 ***

Preparation: You’ll need to recruit someone to be the bunny, and you’ll need to procure a bunny costume. We rented a full bunny suit, which was white and included mittens and shoe-coverings. We chose the kind without the full headpiece, since we agreed people (especially young children) might be scared or feel creeped out. Ours covered the top, sides, and back of the head and velcroed shut under the chin, but showed the full face.

Gratitude and acknowledgement go to Thomas Rhodes, who adapted a folktale into the version of this story found here: http://www.uua.org/worship/words511.shtml/meditations/5 Mine is yet a further adaptation.

 

  1. Jennifer Galasso says:

    I love this reflection. I used an abbreviated version of this on Easter this year and it went well. A 9 year old girl was the “bunny” and she did a great job…the element of surprise in this story makes it fun to do and kept the kids engaged in the story. Adults loved it also. I had to shorten it up to accommodate the rest of the service. Thank you again Martha!

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