Monday night is our home-church group night. Last night was our family’s time to share (all the couples involved rotate through the weeks). We can share whatever we like, as long as it is somewhat Christian spiritual centered. Some people lead prophetic prayer, some do Bible studies, whatever. I went last night, and I read from John Donne’s Divine Meditations and compared it to the storybook The Runaway Bunny.
I can relate to John Donne’s poetry, especially the Divine Meditations. The man has some serious God/Salvation anxiety issues. His imagery is forceful and his anxiety over sinning, satan and salvation is palpable. I love it. Angsty. It’s how I (sometimes) feel. Take Divine Meditation I:
“Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste,
I run to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday,
I dare not move my dim eyes any way,
Despair behind, and death before doth cast
Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it towards hell doth weigh;
Only thou art above, and when towards thee
By thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
That not one hour I can myself sustain;
Thy Grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And though like adamant draw mine iron heart.”
On the other hand, The Runaway Bunny is simple child’s story about a baby bunny who is trying to run away from his mother, but his mother chases him until he gives up. He realizes that no matter where, his mother will follow him.
Two very different views of God, spirituality, love, forgiveness and redemption. One commentator I read said that they thought The Runaway Bunny was like the parable of the prodigal son in the New Testament, but I don’t think so. The Prodigal Son requires that the son comes back and repents. The Runaway Bunny instead tells us that the mother—god, divinity, whatever—will pursue us. Very different.
In high school I read (and was in) the play W;t by Margaret Edson. The play has stuck with me, and inspired the juxtoposition of John Donne and The Runaway Bunny. In W;t an English professor specializing in John Donne’s Divine Meditations is dying of ovarian cancer, and though she doesn’t want to admit it, or can’t see it, she is just as anxious about her life and her coming afterlife. She muses over her past, how harsh she seemed as a teacher and person. She begins to recite the poetry of Donne with a new understanding. Only sick and dying does she truly comprehend him. At the end, when she really is dying, her mentor comes to her and reads her The Runaway Bunny. “A nice allegory for the soul,” the mentor says as she closes the book.
Indeed. As much as I like Donne’s poetry—the angsty, demanding, raging minor cords—one day I hope that my spirituality and life will resolve into the soft, major chords of The Runaway Bunny.