lessons learned: bunnies and sacred space

Every spring, the bunnies come to visit the garden and see if by some chance, there’s a hole in the chicken wire big enough to access the greens.  Sadly, they are disappointed, but they hang around any way and give birth each Spring to new generations of rabbits.

Having cats as pets, we have experienced the sad results of encounters between feline and hare.  When my daughter was little, she witnessed one such occasion, and that opened the door to discussing the cycle of life and death.

One Spring, however, we managed to rescue a small bunny from our cat, Gilly, who in her old age preferred to “play” with small creatures rather than stalk them.  I picked up the bunny in a wash cloth and nestled him in a box.  I called the local nature sanctuary, and they informed me that rarely does a little one survive the shock and injury from such an attack.

As I stared down at the baby, I realized she was right.  This poor creature would probably not even make it across town for the professionals to care for it.

And so, I sat with that sweet bunny in silence.

It was a challenging experience for me to just sit there.  I knew if I picked up the animal, it would frighten the timid thing.  I also appreciated that staring at it or talking to it would not offer comfort either.

So we sat, creating a sacred space of compassion, suffering, and release.

As a spiritual director, I am learning the value of holding this sacred space with human beings.  It is easy for us to want to hug someone, offer words of kindness, or even distract those who are hurting away from their pain.

It is a challenge to sit in silence and prayer.

I am finding, however, that just sitting or “just being” in the presence of someone who is hurting can be very comforting.  There’s no strange tension about what to say or how to phrase the words.  There’s not the burden of having to “fix” something or “make it all ok.”

Holding sacred space allows us to invite Compassion into the relationship and nestle down in her spirit, just like the bunny in the nested box.

As I grow professionally, spiritually, and personally, I find that this practice sits well with my soul.  For me, it has become the deepest expression of lovingkindness I can offer as it says, “I care for you enough to just be in this space, in this time, as the Holy Spirit offers healing and hope.”

I hadn’t thought about that bunny for a long time until I started meditating on this lesson learned.  What a gift that sweet little child of God and I experienced in that moment.

 

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