Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Runaway Bunny...

I have a mountain of children’s books lining several of the lower shelves throughout my home.  I have collected some of them from my childhood, some from Brent and Brooke’s early years, and some I have purchased in the last several years for Harper and Harris to enjoy.

Harper and Harris love to be read to, and as I read, they have many questions about the characters in the books.  We talk at length about the illustrations on each page and we love to point out the obscure, often silly, always eye-catching pictures on the pages.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with Margaret Wise Brown.  Two of our (that would be Brent and Brooke when they were younger and now Harper and Harris) favorite books are MWB’s Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny.  These are beautiful, simple and profoundly written words and Clement Hurd's illustrations have always been among my favorites.

Several weeks ago Harris brought The Runaway Bunny to me to read.  Harper crept into my lap beside Harris and we read this enchanting little book, and we read it and we read it.  In the last several weeks we have probably read TRB twenty-thirty times.

I was surprised that this was the first time they had been introduced to this book, as I have read Goodnight Moon to both of them since they were small babies.

The questions began. 

Harper: “Why did the little boy bunny want to runaway from his mommy?  Did the baby bunny not love his mommy? What did the little bunny do to want to runaway?”  

Harris: “”Yeah Hoamy! why-aa?”  (This is Harris speak and I love it.)

All thirty times we read, the questions are repeated like a broken record.  My answer is always the same.  My explanation. The little bunny didn’t really want to runaway from his mommy because he loved her very much.  The mommy bunny is older and wiser than the little bunny and she knows her little boy is simply wanting to be reassured that no matter where he goes, or what he does, or how lost he may get, nothing will stop the mother bunny from finding him. This mommy bunny is telling her son, he has no need of being afraid because her love for him is so great she will always find him, no matter what.

My early morning quiet time was spent this morning reading Psalms 139: 7-10 “ Your Spirit is everywhere I go. I cannot escape your presence. If I go up to heaven, you will be there. If I go down to the place of death, you will be there. If I go east where the sun rises or go to live in the west beyond the sea, even there you will take my hand and lead me. Your strong right hand will protect me.”

My mind instantly was filled with the words and the illustrations in The Runaway Bunny.  I wondered if MWB might have been inspired by this scripture in Psalms? This little children’s book is as full of loving kindness and undying love, as were David’s writings in Psalms.

I saw God as the wise and gentle mother bunny.  As the baby bunny became a bird so that he could fly away from his mommy, the mother bunny became the a wonderful “bunny” tree that the bunny bird flew to.  As the baby bunny’s ears turned into large pink sails so that he could sail away from his mommy, the mommy became the wind and blew him back to her. 

The little bunny’s last shot at running away was to become a little human boy. The mother bunny’s response was that she would become his human mother and catch him in her arms and hug him. My brain had a sudden ah-ha moment.  Isn’t this exactly what God did for us through his son Jesus Christ?  Does God not love us so much that no matter what we do, how fast or far away we run from him, he is there meeting each of us exactly where we are? His arms outstretched catching us and embracing us with all his might. I believe God knows that we are fearful, he knows that we need constant assurance of his steadfast love and impeccable care, and he is capable of finding us wherever we might be.

The last lines in the book read:

 “Shucks,” said the bunny, I might just as well stay where I am and be your little bunny.”
 And so he did.
“Have a carrot,” said the mother bunny. 

Clement Hurd's last page is a colorful drawing of the mother and baby bunny safe in the hollow of a large tree snuggled together with a carrot. 

“ Your Spirit is everywhere I go. I cannot escape your presence...If I go east where the sun rises or go to live in the west beyond the sea, even there you will take my hand and lead me. Your strong right hand will protect me.”

 I will never know how Margaret Wise Brown’s words were intended to be perceived, but what I do know is that I have a much greater explanation to give my grandchildren when they ask me again, “Why?”

For what it's worth,


(The Runaway Bunny Copyright 1942 by Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.)