Mano a mano | Eastern North Carolina Now

Lib Campbell: Above
    I saw him from the window. I should not have opened the door. There he stood. He was not shaken in my presence. He stood his ground. He had large ears and scrawny legs. He said his name was Peter. We had a moment.

    I do not have frequent conversations with the rabbits or chipmunks or the other critters with whom I share life in this small yard. But the encounter with Peter was special. I put my fingers to my eyes and turned them to his eyes. We were on the same page. He was dining on the front lawn. I was OK with his eating the grass. I implored him not to eat the flowers, or the tomatoes, or the squash. I thought détente; he thought buffet.

    Consulting Mr. McGregor was not helpful. He was angry with Peter. Tried to stomp him. Tried to trap him under a bucket. I do not see life with Peter as war. I see it as challenge. How can we learn to coexist? Rabbit to rabbit. Rabbit to humans. Humans to other humans. Mano a mano. The heavy hand of Mr. McGregor robs Peter's dignity. He even mocks Peter by making a scarecrow out of Peter's little blue jacket. Mr. McGregor needs a few lessons in kindness.

    Kindness in our care of creation is a simple rule. We live on a very small planet in a relatively small galaxy. The call to hold creation gently is on all of us. There is too much heavy-handedness in the world. We don't speak softly, and we carry big sticks. We must be pretty scary to the smallest and weakest among us.

    The Cottontails have life. They need food and water to survive. They don't have to eat the whole garden, but neither do they deserve to be my enemy. Rules of coexistence apply across species and among all humanity.

    Gardens have always gotten people in trouble. Ask Adam and Eve. Ego played into the original sin, and we got kicked out. Egos that run amuck still gum up even the notions of coexistence. People grab power, want to snuff out the rights of others. Everything that lives is to be held in trust. Even Peter, who grazes the yard uninvited has a place.

    When acrimony fills the air, when people feel free to slur one another, when people with power can't recognize that they are stewards of the public trust, we are in a bad way. Whatever happened to erring on the side of grace? Whatever happened to acknowledging that we could be wrong?

    Learning to coexist is learning to love beyond difference. Catch a vision of the world as it could be. One world. One people. I can't believe it's that hard. Maybe both Peter and Mr. McGregor need a little introspection, reflection and self-examination. The psalmist says it like this, "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me."

    Some of the ugliness being lived in the world today has got to feel dirty on the inside, like fetters on the heart. The bunny buffet will remain open at our house. We will watch Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail frolic in the yard and pray their little lives are safe from the terrors of the night.

    Lib Campbell is a retired Methodist pastor, retreat leader and hosts the website: avirtualchurch.com. She welcomes comments at libcam05@gmail.com.
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