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A Pocket Archive (11)

We saved a baby bunny yesterday.

It's been cooler out recently, with the temperatures dropping to the 50's at night. Shortly after I arrived at work, I saw this little guy huddling by the cigarette receptical. He was so tiny and sweet, and I instantly wondered what Gabby would think of him. He looked so cold and miserable.

I ran to grab the assistant manager right away. The poor little bunny started screaming once we caught it, but settled down once he'd gotten warmed up and realized we were not going to hurt him. We let him rest in a cardboard box until someone could come pick him up. It felt cathartic, especially since just a few days ago I'd fished a drowned baby bunny out of the pool. At first I was afraid it was a kitten, which would have been worse, but it was still awful. At least this little bunny was safe and we were able to help him.

It also reminded me of Hopper.

Hopper was a baby jackrabbit that my parents rescued when I was very small- I don't remember how old I was, but I don't think I was in kindergarten yet. We were still regularly driving in the old blue van that my parents now use as a windbreak.

I remember my dad stopping in the middle of the dirt road one night and saying something to my mother before stepping out of the van- I don't remember what, but I think it was something to the effect of "that thing won't survive out there." It must have been in the fall, because it was getting colder out, which may have been part of why they were so worried, but there wasn't any snow on the ground yet. The wind was raging as usual and I remember dad stepping out and seeing him briefly illuminated by the flickering yellow headlights as he ran across the dirt road in front of our vehicle, wind plastering his long yellow hair against his face as he dove into the grass. A moment later he emerged and returned to the van with something in his fist, which he rested against his leg until we got home. I just remember the siloutte of little ears peeking over his thumb in the darkness.

I don't know how long Hopper lived with us, but he had a wire cage in our living room that we'd open so he could run around, and sometimes he'd stand up on his hind legs and box at you, which we kids found very amusing. He never stayed still for long, and if you ignored him, he'd pull on your shoelaces. I remember that he liked to follow us around. He definitely lived with us until past Easter, because we tried feeding him some of the jelly beans we found in an egg hunt and he was not impressed.

When he got big enough, we took him this cage outside and opened the door. Mom and dad had told us that some animals were meant to be wild, and it's unkind to keep them prisoners when they were meant to run. So we all cheered and waved as we watched him bound away over the hills. For years afterwards my dad would point and say "look there's Hopper!" every time we saw a hare in the fields. I think we must have been very small, because for a while it didn't bother me at first, it eventually made me question the longevity of rabbits. I think he did it all the way up until he had his accident.

There were many elements of my childhood that were dysfunctional, especially the years following Christmas 2002, but overall I still think I was very lucky and I appreciate that my parents have such kind souls. They would stop to help anyone, human or otherwise, and we usually had some form of wounded creater in our care, be it baby bunnies, old, lost dogs, kittens needing syringe-fed, or chickens with broken toes, they would always give them a chance and try to care for them. Kindness to people is admirable, but you can really see the true quality of a human heart in how they care for animals, who have nothing to offer in return.

There is a little pet cemetery near the trees on the western side of my parents' house, and another in the garden near the cottonwood that Nelly and I used to climb. A lot of our furry friends from over the years are resting there, along with some strangers that we couldn't save, but made comfortable and later burried nonetheless. Each has flowers planted over their resring spot and a pretty rock or a cross marking where they're burried. Dad even made a fish-shaped one for Opal after she jumped out of her tank. There was never a question in any of our minds that we'd see them again someday.

There is a Bible verse in proverbs that I used to think about a lot. Proverbs 12:10 (NIV) states that "The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel." In the KJV, it's translated as "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast, but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." I had never really considered the second part of it before, but I think it's interesting, especially given what I've learned about evil people. Any good they do is strictly for show and personal gain in some capacity or other.

All of us are broken, of course, and technically evil due to our own sinful nature (which is why we need Jesus) but there is a difference between being broken and being willfully bent. A good person strives to be merciful. He or she is gentle and kind, ruled by pity and compassion, and will not be mean or hard. But the wicked are deceitful and cruel, and even their kindness is harsh, for they lack the tender, gentle spirit of the righteous man, who is concerned even for the animals. Those who are wicked often wear a mask of benevolence, but they are neither kind or merciful. Rather, they are like their master the devil: a liar and murderer from the beginning, and even their "good deeds" are manipulative at best and tainted by self-serving ambition. Kindness without honesty is manipulation.

I don't think it would be fair to say that all evil people are (openly) mean to animals. I've known some very evil people who were very nice to their dogs, for example (as long as they were behaving...again kind of a grey area for control freaks), but I think anytime someone openly abuses an animal or hurts them for fun, especially if they laugh about it later it is very telling. People can change, but generally speaking, it's best to have nothing to do with people like that, because they won't. If someone will willingly abuse an animal, what's to say they wouldn't also hurt a child or partner, given the opportunity they could get away with it?

Christianity teaches us that the righteous person is merciful to himself/herself animals, his wife/her husband, his children, his or her friends, as well as their enemies. He or she will not foolishly afflict, punish, or trouble them, but will rather pamper these same parties with kindness. They respect personal boundaries, and do not take advantage of others. The righteous person loves mercy, just like our Father in heaven loves mercy. The Bible also tells us that He loves even the little sparrows and is sorry when they fall (which makes me feel less silly for my dad and I blubbering over the fish when we discovered that she'd jumped out of her tank).

Kindness is never wasted, even on animals, and it can soften the hardest hearts. We all fall short of the Glory of God, but I am very grateful that as flawed as my parents may be, they were and continue to be wonderful examples of kindness and mercy, especially in the way they care for His creatures. We may see now but in a mirror dimly, but through that tenderness and compassion, I learned to see what love is, especially how it looks when it's reflected through Jesus.


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