‘A gift for my family’
I love the story of Barrington Bunny. I discovered it in the book The Way of the Wolf, by Martin Bell. It is the story of a bunny who lived in the forest, who was warm and furry and loved to hop in the snow. As Christmas draws closer, he goes to various forest families and wants to share in their family time. However, he can’t climb the tree to the squirrels or swim underwater to get to the beavers, and he can’t squeeze into the rocks in the stone wall to be with the field mice. He becomes discouraged and feels all alone, and wanders off into the falling snow by himself, crying.
A great silver wolf appears and addresses him by name. The wolf understands that Barrington feels that none of the families want him, and feels limited by what he can’t do. However, the wolf encourages the bunny to see all the animal-families as his family, and to think about what he can do. So Barrington gathers leaves to warm the squirrels nest and several good sticks to add to the beavers’ hut. The snow has gotten deep and night has fallen, so Barrington starts to head home to his burrow as the snowfall becomes a blizzard.
Then he finds a small baby field-mouse lost and freezing in the snow. Barrington hops quickly to the baby mouse and hugs him close. The blizzard is too fierce to see where to go, so Barrington covers the baby mouse and cradles him, nuzzled deep in his soft bunny-fur. The little one falls asleep cozy and warm. Barrington falls asleep as well, feeling the soft breath and heartbeat of the baby mouse, and smiling at how blessed he feels, and what a gift he can share.
In the morning, the snow stops. The field mice come out frantically searching for their lost baby. They find him, warm, safe and asleep under the frozen, snow-covered corpse of a bunny. They don’t know where the bunny came from, or who it is. But they are grateful their little one is safe and they take him home. The squirrels and beavers find the gifts but never know who brought them. No one gives any notice to the dead bunny … no one except a great silver wolf. It comes and stands over the body of Barrington all day, then disappears into the night.
I always find this a profound story to ponder.
REV. MICHAEL KENDALL is lead pastor of Farmville United Methodist Church. His email address is mkendall@farmvilleumc. org.