When I was a kid, I adored the picture book The Runaway Bunny. That’s why I was delighted when Cara Meredith chose to reflect on it for the series A Book That Helped Me Grow. (And it’s the day after Easter — great timing for a book about a bunny, no?). Cara is the brains and heart behind Be, Mama. Be, where she blogs about life with faith and books and her adorable son and her HBH. (What do those letters stand for, you wonder? Read her blog and you’ll find out!) She welcomed me on her own site two weeks ago, and I’m thrilled to have her share her wisdom here today. Thanks, Cara!
The inscription inside the worn cover is dated 1983, from Grandma Audrey and Grandpa Jack. And at four years old, this was my book – the one that only sat on my shelf, the one I let dictate who got to open its pages. Read the bunny book! Read the bunny book! I’d say to Mama, and she’d gladly oblige, reading the story of the little bunny that wanted to run away from his mother. Again and again she turned the same pages, reading the same message for the umpteenth time: desirous of running away, the little bunny would become a crocus in a hidden garden, but, in return, the mama bunny would don farmer’s gear and gardening hoe. He would become a sailboat, and “sail away from you!” but she would become the wind, blowing him where she wanted him to go.
Maybe I had a strong hankering for its words because the book was my special present, the one neither of my siblings could claim as their own. Maybe it remained my favorite because I too dreamed of running away; I yearned for bravery akin to Huck Finn, the ability to survive an hour outside of the comforts of home. But maybe I was drawn to the book because there was something about being sought after, about being so worth it that nothing would stop The Other from chasing after you.
Years later, as a high school student, I found myself sitting in a room full of teenagers at an outreach camp. We’d begun to hear the story of the God who loves us, who desires nothing more than to have a relationship with the children he already loves dearly. And then a magical intertwining happened: at the end of the speaker’s talk one night, my book – my adventurous, wandering bunny – suddenly flashed on the screen before me. Just like my mom had done for me, the man talking had read the same story to his children every night. Then one night, upon reading it for probably the 300th time, it’d hit him: the Mother Bunny was a delightful picture of the God who chases after those he loves with wild abandon. There exists a great Chase and Rescue mission we’re invited to participate in, no matter how hard our little bunny hearts try and run away, again and again.
A mother now, these same threads of wonder make me marvel at the complexity woven between the worn pages of my old book. Every time my son requests I read that threadbare copy of The Runaway Bunny, I think of the One who chases after every single one of us. I smile, my own heart warmed by the gentle reminder that I can do nothing but receive that same love of God, of my Mother Bunny.
“Aw shucks,” [the little bunny declares at the end of the story, my own liberties taken with added exclamatory shucks.] “I might as well stay where I am and be your little bunny.”
And so he did. “Have a carrot,” says the mother bunny.
For there the little bunny stays. And I realize that it’s the same for me.
Former high school English teacher turned youth minister, Cara is now a free-lance writer and speaker. She holds a Masters of Theology degree (Fuller Seminary), and is currently chipping away at her first book. She loves pretending to be a foodie, being outdoors and trying to read seven books at a time (although never very successfully). She lives near San Francisco with her husband, James, their son, Canon, and a second baby brother scheduled to arrive late this summer. You can connect with Cara on her blog Be, Mama. Be, on Facebook, and on Twitter (@caramac54).