My Snuggly Bunny

The other day, I saw an image that took my breath away. It was a pastel watercolor of a young boy, falling asleep on a porch swing, with a young rabbit curled up on his chest. The image was so gentle, so peaceful, that it brought tears to my eyes.

With a little research, I found out it was from this book:

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Furtively, I went online to order a used copy. Looking over my shoulder, I made sure no one saw me order it, made sure it would come in a plain brown box, as if I was buying something obscene!

This is how deeply I hate being the sensitive person that I am. It feels too much like weakness to me. I hate personality tests that rate other people as “lions” or “wolves” while rating me as a “dove” or “doe” or another useless, severely weak animal.

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I hate people seeing me crying at a movie, or looking at a children’s book. I even hated it when I had my first child, and some coworkers came to visit. I felt pathetic and laughable to be seen in such a state, marked as I was by blood and bandages, not fully dressed, unable to sit up unassisted. While I loved my child like crazy, the presence of a newborn in my arms did not help. In my mind, this one visit ruined the image I had worked so hard to cultivate: the image of a strong, self-assured, working woman.

It hasn’t gotten any easier since that day. In mixed company, I avoid talking about being an artist, for fear that it will make me look moody. I avoid owning anything that is too pink, too lacy, or too silly, for fear I won’t be taken seriously. I think about creativity and emotion – my “soft” side – as something inferior, an embarrassment that must be covered up at all costs.

This time, though, God has not been silent on the matter. He told me that while I may despise my “soft” side, it’s actually the part of me that most closely resembles Him. He said love and sensitivity – and with it, the ability to be hurt – were Godlike traits. He said that the problem was not sensitivity at all: it was the fact that someone, influenced by the Devil, had told me that I shouldn’t be that way.

In my mind’s eye, I saw a flowing river, and at one spot, its movement was being impeded by an ugly, rock-covered sand bar, jutting out almost to my full height. Jesus told me not to worry, that we’d work on it together, over time. And He took my hand and told me that He loves me.

He loves me.

I can’t count the number of times He’s told me this, sometimes through others, sometimes through scriptures, and sometimes from His own mouth; but every single time, it catches me off guard. He loves me. The God of all the Universe loves me.

Beloved Readers,

May you find His love today and throughout the week.

Sincerely,

Morgan Grace Hart
Scripture for Today:
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death
— even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:1-11 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Philippians%202:1-11&version=NIV

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A Piece of Writing

Hello all! If you’ve wondered where I’ve been disappearing to, I’ve been putting more work into larger projects. (Plus trying to earn an income.)

I’ve been writing a book since April — I don’t know if it will ever see the light of day, but like any artistic project, it refuses to leave me be, despite all my other, more immediate, obligations.

Anyway I thought it might be good to occasionally share pieces of the “big dogs” writing projects.

This piece comes out of a fiction work currently in progress. It tells the story of a woman agreeing to stay in the spare room of a stranger’s home as a means of escaping an abusive boyfriend. Though not religious, she quickly becomes suspicious that her host is none other than Jesus. (And, to clarify, she usually just calls him J, avoiding saying his name.)

Anyway, here goes!

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There were a lot of strange things I learned about J from living with him. You meet people sometimes who you can tell they’ve been through a lot, and he was like that — but different. I guess the best word for it was that he was not haunted… It was all light with Him, even in trauma. He was so convinced of purpose, it left no room for doubt; and with no doubt, he was unafraid.

I also came to realize that I loved Him. It was strange at first, even difficult – he was so obviously better than me, so much better, and I spent my first days alternating between giddy excitement and depressed self-loathing. How could such a man even love me? I saw all my awfulness drug from the shadows into the light of day, when I looked into his eyes. After a few days, however — once it felt like everything had been drug out of me that could be — and after I had told him everything about myself and my life — I was standing in the garden, quietly, and I realized I was truly happy.

As I lived with him, I began to notice more things – trademarks from his past. He had holes in his hands and feet – I had already known that before I met him. But he had a lot of other scars, too. Sometimes if he ran his hands through his hair, I’d see marks around his hairline. I was going to ask him about it one day when I suddenly realized – these were scars from The Crown of Thorns. The thought of it was so awful that I had to excuse myself to the bathroom. I just stood there in front of the mirror, mouth covered, eyes shut. That evening while I sat in the living room, I could not look at him. When he asked me what was wrong, I lied and said I was fine.

One day we were washing dishes together and J got his shirt soaked somehow. Laughing, he pulled off his shirt and hung it over the back of a kitchen chair. I turned, laughing, to speak to him.

When I turned to look at him, I suddenly dropped the plate like a shocked housewife in a sitcom. It came crashing to the floor.

He turned to look at me. “What’s wrong?”

I was trembling and crying, unable to speak yet. He walked over to me, and loosely held my arms. “What’s wrong?” he asked gently. I buried my face in his chest, sobbing.

I had never seen J’s back before that day. It was a tangled mess of scar tissue, from one end to the other. Starting from the base of his neck, going past where his jeans covered him, there were large scars, branching into smaller scars, branching into nasty little blotches and spurs. It was not disgusting, for it had longsince healed solid. But it was horrifying to see, even to imagine. Worse yet, I had the strange feeling that I had contributed to them.

He rubbed my shoulders reassuringly. When I regained my breath, I pulled away from him slightly, not breaking his embrace. “What happened to you?” I cried. He looked intently at me. “Your back,” I said softly. “What happened to it?”

Now tears formed in J’s eyes, but not from sorrow. “It was a cat-of-nine-tails, beloved. A kind of whip they used to use that split at the ends, and they wove sharp objects into the braids.” He gave me a moment to let that sink in. “They tortured me with one. Took my clothes from me, bound my hands to a post, pulled my undergarments down around my ankles like a little boy about to be spanked. They whipped me forty times, from my shoulders to the back of my kneecaps.” Another long pause. “But it didn’t appease the crowd. So they laid a wooden cross across my back — on all the open wounds — and they made me carry it through town, until we reached the outskirts. Then they took my clothes, laid me naked over it, nailed me down and put me where everyone passing in and out of town could see me. It was like that for six hours. And then I died.”

The way he spoke about it, gently and without bitterness, made it somehow even harder to hear. He rubbed my back and I stared into the distance, not looking at anything in particular. All my life, I had known such things: seen crucifixes hung over doors, seen paintings of Jesus’ suffering… But now it struck me that there was an actual guy in there. It wasn’t some Greek god, or some bigger-than-life legend, or a TV character. There was a slightly short man with normal skin and a normal pain tolerance, who actually felt all this. And he was standing here in my kitchen now, holding me.

I could feel tears dripping down my face. Whatever I might personally believe about J, I knew he was good, and the idea of someone hurting him so badly just killed me inside.

“But you’re never angry about it. So much pain. How could…” I swallowed. “How could you even feel so much pain?”

He sighed. “Beloved, people are tortured every day, all over the Earth, often for the very things I taught them. I’m not denying that it hurt — it was almost unbearable. But for that part, I had only to survive; I could count a certain number of hours out, and then it would be finished.” He swallowed, took my head in his hands, and looked directly into my eyes. “But what hurt worse was feeling all of your sins and pain. Because I carried you.” I tensed as I remembered the dream I’d had.

He held me close and stroked my hair. After a while like this, he turned his head and asked, “Do you want to talk about this?” And I knew what he was asking me.

Suddenly scared, I said “no”, and wriggled out of his embrace. I literally ran from the room, leaving behind pieces of broken dishes and J, also broken, to clean up my mess.