There Once Was a Rabbit

There was a Rabbit in the Tree

A story that is entirely true, but not at all real

by Larry Taylor

I have it on the authority of none other than Margery Williams that somewhere in the rural United Kingdom there was a small boy who became quite ill with smallpox. This obviously occurred before scientists rid the world of smallpox by creating a vaccine, which was mandated by law for everyone in much of the developed world, including the United States. It was a time before people chose to believe nonsensical conspiracy theories and before politicians cast aspersion on public health figures.

It seems the small boy in question adored one stuffed rabbit, clinging to it night after night. It was the stuffed animal’s presence at a time of sickness, isolation, and quarantine that brought the little guy through. But, alas, after his recovery, the doctor ordered the burning of all textile items that had been in the sick room. This done to protect the rest of the family from the pandemic. This was obviously during a by-gone era when people cared about others and took sacrificial precautions not to infect them.

The purging cremation was to include the beloved stuffed bunny. It was a sad day for the little guy. He had far more sensibility than the adults.

I’m happy to report, however, that through the magical intervention of a kindly Faerie whose name escapes me at the moment, rather than consuming the stuffed bunny, the fire transmuted it into a real live rabbit. Wild rabbits live an average of two years. This one, however, defied all expectations and lived for many years in the garden behind the house, regularly visiting the lad as he grew into a scholar and a statesman.

My sources are impeccable – not like the fantasies of climate deniers, science rejectors, history revisers, and conspiracy theorists. 

I have it from an equally high authority (who wishes anonymity) that somewhere in sub-Sahara Africa there was a little girl who loved nature. Her days were happy and free. Birds landed on her head, lions sat like kittens and purred at her, big snakes tickled her cheeks with their flicking tongues. She giggled and played all day. 

This obviously occurred before Europeans colonized the land, installed puppet kings, raped the earth of its minerals, and enslaved the natives. It was also a time before people banned books and reinvented a mythical national history void of slavery, genocide, and Jim Crow. 

The little girl was so happy, and her laughter so enchanting, that it reached to the gods and delighted them. It seems they had previously been in rather foul moods, although I do not know why that was so. A day came when the tiny lass, like her counterpart in the UK, fell ill. There were no physicians to provide an accurate diagnosis, this being before the time of the NIH, WHO, and CDC – a time before civilized countries had national healthcare for everyone. Hence, her particular ailment remains a mystery. The medicine man, the shaman, and the televangelist did their best. But, alas, the poor thing died.

The whole village grieved deeply. It takes a village to raise as child, so all the women wept as if they had birthed her, all the men sobbed as if they had sired her, and all the other children cried at losing their sister.

Now, I cannot absolutely validate what follows because the primary sources have all passed on, but I’m told that even the gods wept and wrung their hands because they were too impotent to prevent this death which robbed the world of laughter and joy. And, they got grumpy again, which wasn’t good for anyone. Some people have a propensity for making others miserable because deep inside, they are miserable. These people often become either middle managers or senators. 

It delights me to report that the very same kindly Faerie whose name still escapes me worked some deep magic, or sprinkled fairy dust, or waved an elfin wand, or something, and transposed the little girl into a magnificent olive tree that would live over 2,000 years.

This was no ordinary olive tree. It was, as it were, a house plant. It lived in the courtyard of the Great Temple of the Gods where it was carefully nurtured and manicured by a bunch of priests who liked the olive tree far better than the gods, who, as I said, had become quite grumpy once again. 

But not only was the little girl now a flourishing, fruit-bearing, lush green olive tree in the house of the gods, she was alive. I mean she could think and walk and talk and visit the animals in the rain forest. Some people mistakenly think that when trees walk, they pick up their roots out of the ground. They do not. They wade through the earth like you might wade through water at the seashore. Jack Lewis proved that.

So, at night, when the village slept and the nocturnal animals prowled, the Green Olive Tree would walk out of the temple of the gods and wade through the rain forest laughing as birds landed in her boughs, snakes gently curled around her branches, and big cats slept on the large branches near her trunk.

She did more than play, however. She was, after all, deeply compassionate. She had heard the priests speaking in dreaded whispers of a rising tide of authoritarianism accompanied by increasingly blatant and violent xenophobia, racism, misogyny, and homophobia in a nearby kingdom that possessed nuclear weapons long before nuclear fusion was discovered. 

Because of the oppression, there were many people homeless and starving in that kingdom. Those who ran the kingdom were getting richer and richer, while the ordinary people dwindled and famished. Their suffering moved the heart of Green Olive Tree.

Nightly, Green Olive Tree waded into the oppressive kingdom where they worshipped Mars, Mammon, and the Great Leader. She froze when any guards or spies were nearby, then steadily made her way to the ravine where the wretched-rejected huddled. 

Night after night, she shook her branches and rained beautiful, plump, ripe olives on them as they slept. With joy, they gathered the olives each morning, pressed out the oil, sold their product, and fed their families. This, much to the dismay of the Great Leader who needed everyone to stay angry so he could continue to fleece them.

I’m told that this went on until the Great Leader spread his Great Lies so repeatedly and so loudly that the gods got sick of it and crushed that kingdom like so many olives in a press.

Nevertheless, the little-girl/olive-tree went on laughing and playing with the animals and bringing joy to all for many, many years.

Decades (or perhaps it was centuries – one loses one’s sense of time) passed before an enterprising young scholar from the United Kingdom made an exploratory scientific expedition through the sub-Saharan interior. He had a gentle as well as a genteel manner about him – a kindness and humility that only comes from deep suffering. His eyes glowed like a rabbit’s, full of compassion.

Of this part, I am certain, because I have it on the Highest of Authority, that the young man came across the olive tree one night under a full moon. He was walking because he could not sleep. He had delt with insomnia ever since his beloved velveteen rabbit had sacrificially offered itself for the lives of his family. 

She was visiting her animal friends. She was so wrapped up in having fun with the wingèd and four-leggèd, that she neglected to see him approaching. He stared in amazement at the sight of a dancing, laughing, talking tree gaily playing with what most people thought were very dangerous animals.

But not all the animals would be thought dangerous. In fact, there was at least one there that had no business being there at all because its kind don’t live in sub-Sahara Africa. It was a cottontail identical to the one that played behind his house when he was growing up. The rabbit was scurrying up and down and around Green Olive Tree and seemed to be tickling her. She giggled with delight.

He burst out laughing. The tree and the creatures froze. There ensued an awkward moment, then the creatures and the kindly Brit all roared hysterically, doubled over with laughter and joy. This was before the time of social media trolls. 

The gods laughed too, releasing their foul moods, and joined the nocturnal full-moon party in the rain forest. When the laughter died down and the mood melted into a quiet contentment, the gods issued a proclamation of their collective desire that human, leporid, and Green Olive Tree join hands and spread joy and love throughout the earth. 

And so, they did. Little by little, defeating darkness with light and hatred with love. 

Destroying war with peace, 

Confronting bitterness with forgiveness, 

Turning the other cheek, 

Going the second mile, 

Loving their enemies, 

Martyred daily, 

Choosing to die rather than kill,

Destroying death by dying, 

Overcoming evil with grace. 

With self-sacrificial service and unconditional love, a tree, a bunny rabbit, and a young man righted wrongs and won hearts.

Even the gods came to see the light.

© LRT February, 2022

About Dr. Larry Taylor

Radical Anabaptist, Jesus Freak, Red Letter Christian, sailor, thinker, spiritual director, life coach, pastor, teacher, chaplain, counselor, writer, husband, father, grandfather, dog-sitter

Posted on February 8, 2022, in Justice, Kingdom Life, parables, Peace Shalom Hesed, social justice, Spirituality. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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