The cashier looked at me, stunned. “You WANT that one?” she queried. “Yes, I don’t need you to have someone run and get me another—it’s the brokenness of the bunny that makes it so valuable.”
She looked at me again like I must be mad. Or some kind of cruel parent who enjoys giving her children sadistic gifts of headless chocolate rabbits each year.
This morning, as my husband was walking out the front door to do some last minute Easter shopping with our daughter, I heard him say, “Oh no! The chocolate rabbit is all busted up in the package here by the front door!”
As I heard the beginnings of “Mom WANTED it that way,” I shouted down from the bathroom door where I was brushing my teeth, “It’s for a sermon illustration for Sunday!! It’s perfectly fine just like that!!” Which did the trick. Confused silence. And the front door clicked shut behind them.
When I was out at Polly’s yesterday getting extra flour and eggs for my bigtime bake-off of hot cross buns, I happened upon a large chocolate rabbit in its colorful Easter box with its head completely lopped off. I stopped in my tracks in the candy aisle when I saw him. And my heart immediately reached out and lifted him off the shelf.
In one brief instant all of the Paschal Mystery of Holy Week was crystallized for me in the rabbit and my heart’s response.
This is why we need Good Friday. Life gets busted up like this all the time, even when we follow all the rules and try our very best. Stuff like this happens even when you pack every carton of bunnies with extra padding. There’s no reason to interpret it as “good” or “bad.” Or figure out who to blame. It just happens to each person and every child and countless relationships and situations. They get busted up even before the pristine packaging can be removed. And when it looks like we can point a finger of judgment at some place of weakness or oversight or mismanagement, God help us even more.
But God does not ask any questions when seeing the headless hares of our lives appearing. Pointing and judging is not a part of the response. It’s just one more opportunity to reach into the muckiness and pain and offer something that might be able to help us through. Maybe a kind soul’s words and help when your kid’s meltdown knocks down the Cadbury chocolate display at CVS; maybe a person who stops and won’t leave the scene until you’re able to get your dysfunctional car off the road; maybe a supervisor who doesn’t just SAY she believes in you but gives you yet another chance to keeping learning; maybe the anonymous person who pays your bill this month when you had no idea how to cover it.
It’s not that perfectly formed bunnies are bad; it’s lovely when life seems like all is coming up roses. But we near-sighted humans don’t have enough vision to see God’s passionate love and presence all around us until and unless we are sitting trapped in a box all busted up by life. That’s when those surprising Easter moments take our breath away.
May you feel able to bring your Good Fridays into church tomorrow in praise of the Holy One who holds us especially close when we need it most.