It had been two days since I drove fence posts into the ground and completely surrounded my 800 square foot garden with a 30″ chicken wire fence to keep the rabbits from eating my strawberry and vegetable plants as they sprouted from the ground. While checking the garden, I discovered a hole in my strawberry bed that I hadn’t remembered being there. Not being overly fond of sticking my hand into holes in the ground without knowing what may be in them, I got a stick and dug around a bit and pulled out a lot of straw and rabbit fur. It was then I noticed, about 2 feet away, the four baby rabbits huddled in the shade of a strawberry plant. These were not newborns. They each had a full coat of fur and looked to be more than several days old. Had they been fenced in for two days and separated from their mother by this real life Mr. McGregor? Had they breached my security perimeter and penetrated my garden? For just a few minutes I found myself filled with pity for these small, cuddly, cute, helpless and harmless looking creatures with big brown eyes. Wait a minute … harmless?
All feelings of pity vanished as I envisioned them contentedly engaged in the nocturnal activity of munching their way along my rows of lettuce, beans, peas and carrot plants. These were voracious evil beasts in bunny suits! I knew what had to be done. I considered a bucket of water after which I would impale each lifeless corpse on a stake and place one on each corner of my garden as a warning to any others who may think about trespassing. I rejected that thought though when I realized that it would not only send a message to other potential intruders, but that it would also send a message about me to my neighbors; a message that I didn’t particularly want to send. So I wrapped each one carefully in a paper towel and moved them to a nice shady location OUTSIDE the fence. I thought about putting up a sign that said “Free Lunch Here” for Gruber and Marcia (my neighborhood Cooper’s Hawks), or any other hungry wanderer. I did not act on that thought.
Basking in my sense of benevolence, I was sharply reminded of my preaching the day before from Colossians 3, where Paul commands us to “mortify”, “put to death your members which are on the earth.” Those sins, birthed in our mind and ultimately manifested through the members of our bodies, are not so easy to put to death are they? We tend rather to deal with them gently, with kid gloves, and thus end up having to deal with them again and again. It would be far better for us to impale each lifeless corpse on a virtual stake and place them in full view of our spiritual eyes as a warning to us: “Danger here, this voracious beast will devour your life and rob you of your joy and peace and blessing if you allow it to live.”
A day later I discovered all four babies in the protective custody of their mother who was lounging under my apple tree. I’ll probably have to deal with them again in the days ahead.