“Are there rabbits in Manhattan?” my son Isaiah asked yesterday. And if I didn’t laugh, I wanted to, for what midwestern city doesn’t have rabbits? But Isaiah hadn’t seen them around, so how could he have known?
When I go out into the forest, I find it still sets the stage for my soul to be nourished. It was a confused and frantic soul this morning, and I didn’t know why. A restlessness had settled over me even though I’d seen evidence of new life in my community. How was it that seeing those newly hatched nestlings thrusting bare necks out for food wasn’t enough to keep me rejoicing for even a day? Hope was springing up like all the vibrant leaves everywhere after the persistent winter. But who knew spring would come again? We did. We all did, even if we dared not admit it to ourselves. We surely dared not hope in our own growth.
I walked into the wild today and I lay my confused mind and restless soul on the table before God. I said: “It isn’t right that I should be in despair with all this teeming life. I acknowledge that new things are birthed in pain, but birth is not a funeral! I refuse to despair, so teach me how to hope again! I know you taught me yesterday, but I’ve already forgotten.”
Abba took my hand and led me into the forest. And I saw a possum walking in broad daylight, weaving its way over forest floor. It climbed a tree. “I thought you were nocturnal, o possum,” I said to it, and God and I chuckled at the joke.
God led me down new paths and I saw hoofprints, and a little snake. It’s funny how one can imagine that there aren’t really animals in the forest, except for an obvious robin or two. But new eyes see new life. I was seeing already how hope — the antithesis of despair and confusion — is birthed in alertness.
We had a feast in the forest, Abba and I. I had lain despair on his table and he transformed it into a feast. We toasted to life and love and King Jesus. The enemy wrung his hands as his plot to confuse fell to ridiculous ruin.
Mouth bursting with bread, I acknowledged that there had never been chains binding me from praise except those of my own choosing. What mirage of insufficiency, what necessity for anxiety stood in my path were all cleared away. True identity in Jesus Christ, my mind and soul and body had been brought to attention and rest. Sitting by a trickle of stream, I sang out loud.
Oh, hope is not elusive. Life may not be evident, for we walk among much that is asleep. But hope? Hope teems. There has always been hope, and there have always been rabbits in Manhattan.