A Bip, A Bunny, and A Blackberry Bush
It has become a part of my morning this year for our kitty, Bip, to curl up on my lap while I drink my early morning coffee. I affectionately refer it as "coffee and kitty cuddles”.
I relish these moments as time of reflection and prayer as I soak in the stillness before the activity of my day begins. (AKA, before the sleeping four-year-old, frog-catching boy wonder emerges from his bedroom in full boyhood force.) With all that life throws at us, I greatly value these times of “being still and knowing that He is God.”
This morning my mind wanders back to when Mark and I were first married. We lived in North Bonneville, Wa and at that time Mark was working in Camas. Bip was in an animal hospital in Camas, being treated for a life threatening health issue. Yet, once again, as this has happened twice before and after, he pulls through like a real trooper. I have no doubt that this kitty has exceeded his nine-live limit. It was Mark’s plan to pick Bip up from the pet clinic and the both of them were to ride home on the bus. Simple enough, right? …. Ahem, well…
I was at home preparing dinner and anticipating the arrival of my newlywed hubby and our recovered kitty. Then, I get the call: “Honey, can you come down here? Bip got out of the carrier and is stuck in a blackberry bush. I can’t get to him and the last bus just left.” My thoughts race as I jump into the car. (For our law enforcement friends I will not disclose my speed of travel.)
This kitty was extra special. He had provided so much comfort for my daughter and me over the years, toughed out a cross-country plane ride, outwitted death already a couple of times, and provided a consistent pet for my new step-children. We often call him a “little person in a kitty suit” because he has this knack of understanding how much we need him and for meowing in dialogue with us.
As I arrive, I see Mark poking around a massive mound of a blackberry bush. The spiked branches are so tightly woven it is next to impossible for a human to get in. We can’t see Bip at all, but as we call out to him his pitiful meow responds from the thorny depths.
“How on earth did he manage to get out of the carrier?” I ask.
“I unzipped it just enough to reach my hand in to pet him.” Mark responds. “The traffic and everything was making him nervous so I was trying to comfort him. As soon as I unzipped the carrier, a bunny caught Bip’s eye and he jumped past my hand and chased the bunny into the blackberry bush.”
As upsetting as the situation was, I must admit the whole scenario was not only cute, but also kind of comical. I’m thinking, ‘What an adorable title for a child’s storybook.’ A Bip, A Bunny, and a Blackeberry bush.’
As it is starting to get late, Mark finally decides to just go for it. He finds a small path and plows into the mound. I see nothing but hear the loud rustling of branches, Mark’s calling gently to Bip to come to him, and Bip meowing in response.
Soon Mark clears the scratchy mound with Bip in hand. Both have fragments of branches in their hair and fur and Mark’s arms and legs reveal bloodied scratch marks.
We place Bip safely into his carrier and bring him to the peace and safety of our apartment. Home! All is well. And now to tend to Mark’s scratched up arms and legs.
After this memory finishes it’s flooding of my mind, I realize how much this situation is like us. We become prickly and thorny, lacking in compassion and transparency when we allow a mound to grow around our own hearts and lives. Thorny mounds that form before we realize as a shield of protection from the pain of our own choices and experiences, or from the pain inflicted upon us due to the choices of others. To be transparent or compassionate towards others means the risk of being hurt yet once again, so we respond in prickly or guarded ways.
Like Mark plowing through the thick thorny branches to rescue Bip, Jesus took on a thorny crown and prickly spear to rescue us. With whiplashed stripes on His arms and legs and entire body, He plows past our thick mound to heal our heart, He places us into the “carrier” of His never-ending love and grace and brings us into the peace and safety of His sweet Heavenly home for us. We experience the freedom of no longer having this mound suffocating us and once again are free to be true to ourselves and to others and to love others freely.
Does it mean we are immune to hurt and pain ever again? I’m sorry to say emphatically, No! Not while we live on an earth with broken people. It does mean, however, that we have the peace of knowing that regardless of what others think or do or the mistakes we make, we can rest assured that we are loved beyond measure at all times and we have the healing salve of our Great Physician and Wonderful Counselor to rescue us, lift us up, comfort us, and carry us through to Home.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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