Out the front door for a minute. The ordinary crumbled into a puddle before what I saw. Two baby rabbits were lying dead upon my sidewalk, with no explanation. To see them up close, in some form of intimacy, magnifies their almost inarticulable sweetness and tenderness. Perhaps even more so in death, or the wracking suffering of prolonged agony. I guess that’s true of all beings, seen and unseen. And of us. We have to get really close to our objectified world, so neat we are in our taxonomy, to get beyond it.
I was there. I was up close with a mystery and a small horror that took me to the crack between the worlds. I sobbed. “They only wanted to live,” I repeated, with the occasional interjection of “Why?” I’m so glad I did not try to answer that question. That question of why, I knew in that moment, I didn’t want to know why, I wanted something else.
The greatest temptation in many such circumstances is to go cold. To ascribe cause and effect, actions and resolves; attempts to freeze a moment that is already gone. I looked at these temptations, since almost all of them involved ascribing some human agency to this heart squeezing mystery, and though nodding momentarily to human moralities, I gathered myself into the flow of fully witnessing my own response. I kept praying, and the place of the sacred wound that wants only our intimate embrace. To stand as witness is already some form of Tonglen, simply by not standing in the way of the full experience.
I got some support, got the shovel, and prepared to do what I had to do. One baby was clearly gone, ready, we hope, to release itself to the earth. But the other, ah the other, was twitching. I could not bring myself to put it out of its misery. It would have required violence. I laid it under some ferns, a shaded and restful place, as its breathing heaved and occasional paroxysms shook its legs.
It was the best I could do. I went back several times, each time saying the prayers that sustain me every day, I said them for the bunny. Each time I went back, the twitching seemed more vigorous. At some point, I couldn’t go back anymore. It was the best I could do.
I couldn’t go back to the place where I laid it. For three days. Though when thought of it arose, a mantra concurrently spoke itself.
Finally, I went back to the spot. There was no trace of the rabbit, but out of the pine brush to my left, came a similar baby rabbit. Looking at me. Watching me. Wriggling its nose. A seeming state of both curiosity and fascination. In my mind, the rabbit was modeling good behavior. Because I think it is a state we could well employ as often as possible. For understanding. For intimacy with our world.
Was it the same bunny, or a brother or sister coming to pay its respects? As with the rest of this mystery, such questions are best left untouched. All I need to know was that each of the three manifest bunnies gave me a great kindness.
The first bunny, the one I buried, gave me the kind reminder that to love life is to live in danger, a danger we must somehow heft as our backstory, while we give our greater capacity to living life anyway. The second bunny gave me the capacity to care in a moment of despair. That caring took me just beyond the waves of despondency that sometimes overmatch me, and teeth clenched, out to a steely sea of just “getting through” the incomprehensibility of this life. Those waves which so often simply knock me over, and knock some part of me out.
It is impossible to compare gifts. But was the last the best? The third bunny’s gift? Hope. A smidgeon of hope for all the things we don’t know what to do about, or understand, or give us pain. Those things we simply let be.
I wrote that my sightings of baby rabbits are rare here. I must amend that statement. Almost every day now, I am observed, and in turn observe, a baby rabbit at the edge of the verge. Time and exact place, unpredictable, and unknown, so many of the pith important reminders in life are. Is it that the frequency of opportunity for this mutual acknowledgement between us has increased, or am I just possibly, looking at things differently, looking to see what is both essential, and visible to the heart opened eye?