Thank you for visiting my blog. I hope you will come often. It is my hope that these stories and reflections will be helpful in your spiritual journey. I look forward to your thoughts, questions, or suggestions. Please leave your comments and join as a follower so I will know you were here. It is a privilege to share the journey with you.

If you wish to know more about me, spiritual direction or retreats visit my website. www.bunnycox.com. Blessings, Bunny

*See first posting in January, 2011 to learn why this blog is called "From the Big Red Chair."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Great Possum Affair

My husband Sam had cancer and needed chemotherapy.  When he went into the hospital his mother came to help. Lillie cooked meals, ensured our daughter got off to school, and kept the house running so I could stay with her son. Supper warmed on the stove when I returned every evening. Each round of treatment was more grueling than the last, and Sam became increasingly fragile. Both Lillie and I thought he would die. Her once-a-month visits turned into a six-month stay, and I began to spend nights at the hospital on a recliner that could have doubled as a medieval torture device.  Fear and exhaustion crept in.

I had just settled Sam on the sofa the day he finally came home when Annie, our Brittany spaniel, appeared at the back door with a possum in her mouth, and it wasn’t just playing dead. Sam normally handles those types of National Geographic moments, but he could barely lift his head.   My city upbringing provided little possum removal practice, and all I wanted was to collapse into bed, but I knew procrastination to be ill-advised.  I braced to tackle the task.  

I coaxed the unfortunate creature from the dog’s mouth.  I pinched the tip of its tail between my thumb and forefinger and headed for the kitchen to put it in a zippered plastic bag.  I fumbled in a drawer for a bag with my free hand and held the possum at arms length with the other.  Lillie must have seen me cringe.

“Oh for heaven’s sakes” she said. “Give me that thing!”

“Got it,” I replied through clinched lips, trying to open the zippered bag with my teeth.   

Lillie popped open a brown paper sack that had been lying on the kitchen counter and reached for the possum. “Give it to me," she insisted. “And don’t waste a plastic bag.”

I should have yielded to her seventy-seven years of country wisdom, but I was convinced my zippered bag would contain odor better than a paper sack. I found out I was wrong, but that wasn’t the point.  I was perfectly capable of dealing with a dead possum, and how much could one zippered bag cost? I turned from her outstretched sack and continued the awkward task of maneuvering the possum into the plastic bag while trying to avoid touching it any more than necessary.  I wasn’t trying to be obstinate.  I honestly thought mine the better disposal option.  Lillie disagreed. 
 “I said give it to me!” she repeated. “And don’t waste that plastic bag!” 

I felt a flush of anger crawl up my neck. Why I didn’t just give it to her, I don’t know, but at that point it became a matter of principle.  I didn’t want to put my possum in her sack. I wanted to put it in my bag. I unwisely decided to take a stand.

“Lillie, I am putting this possum in this plastic bag right now!” I said, my voice rising, “Do you mind!” I probably should have left that part off.

“Yes!” she replied.

I was stunned, but even more shocked when she snatched the possum from my hand. I grabbed for it, but she was too fast for me. We were squared off in the middle of the kitchen with Lillie clutching the possum behind her back, and with me trying to reach around her to get it, when Sam raised his head from the sofa.

 “Mother, give Bunny the possum.”  

Now those were words I never expected to hear from my husband’s mouth.

Lillie glared at me.  At first I thought she would refuse, but she begrudgingly handed over the possum.  I had emerged victorious.

Without taking my eyes off Lillie, I jammed the possum into the plastic bag and sealed the zipper with a flourish.  I shouldn’t have done that. Lillie snatched the plastic bag with the possum inside, stuffed it into her paper sack, and stomped off towards the garbage.

We have since laughed about “the possum affair” and agree, if fighting over a dead marsupial is as bad as it gets between us, we have done pretty well. It is the only argument we have had in all the years I have been married to her son. 


"Fatigue makes cowards of us all."--Vince Lombardi

Temper tantrums, however fun they may be to throw, rarely solve whatever problem is causing them.  ~Lemony Snicket

Remember, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." Mark 2:27 

How does my heart respond to this statement? When the stresses of life threaten to overwhelm me, it is especially important to rest and connect with elements that refresh me, heal me, and nourish me—the sky, the birds, the trees, the flowers—whatever is refreshing, healing, and nourishing.

What renews my spirit?

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Healer

I was speaking with a new acquaintance when a wave of sadness rose from nowhere.  It broke over me, and without warning, tears began to flow. That's the way it sometimes is with grief.  Embarrassed by my inability to contain emotion, I choked out an apology. 

“Please don’t apologize,” my new friend said. 

“I am a doctor,” he explained. “When someone who is bleeding comes to me, the first thing I do is clean the wound with a saline solution that in chemical composition is identical to tears.”   

“I heal no one,” he said. “God does the healing.”

“By washing the wound, I only create an environment where God’s healing can occur.  Please don’t apologize.  I believe tears wash our wounds and are a gift of the Holy Spirit.”


What are my thoughts about this statement: “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power.”  --Washington Irving

What are my feelings about emotions? Do I apologize for tears?

Have I known healing tears? 

Do I believe tears are a gift of the Holy Spirit?

Saturday, February 12, 2011


One Saturday morning my grandson went to stay with friends until his mother returned from what was supposed to be a quick trip to the emergency room.  Tara was in the latter stages of pregnancy and something wasn't right. She never came home, and neither did he.  When Spencer left that morning he left behind the life he knew, all of his belongings and a bob-tailed cat named Cleo.

For a year after Tara died, I grieved and prayed for his safety. I ached for his return to my embrace. God worked a miracle. Spencer came to live with us, and at last I had hope for healing.  

We painted a bedroom and declared it his. We filled the space with books and games, trying to replace the ones that were lost. I hung his mother’s cross from the corner of his bulletin board to remind him of her love and her faith. No matter what I did, Spencer's heart wasn't with us.

He spent hours in his room playing his mother's guitar. He never spoke of what had transpired until one day he asked, "What happened to Cleo?"  It broke my heart to not know the answer, but I did know what needed to be done.

The kitten marched into our lives with a swagger and frisky confidence. He was a tiny, tuft of terrifying-in-his-own-mind orange fur.  His scrawny body and over-sized head gave no hint of the twenty-pound beauty he would become.  In his self-assured kitten heart, he was already there.

All bluff and fluff, he pounced on fuzzy balls that rolled across the floor. He stalked a stuffed mouse that Spencer pulled from a string. He leapt from a frozen crouch to a death-defying three feet in the air to capture imaginary birds on the end of plastic sticks. His tenacity and hunting skills would have brought pride to a mother lion’s heart. Affectionately named Mack O’Hara Cox, a nod to our family’s Irish roots, the Maine Coon kitten brought new life to the house.

And Spencer came home.

Mack--the healing cat--came into our lives and replaced tears with laughter and brought with him a love big enough to fill the hole in a boy’s broken heart.

Healing takes many forms--from physical cure to emotional recovery. When have I known healing? How did it begin?

Have I found healing in unexpected places? Where were they?

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Savoring Stillness

I shall miss cold, drizzly February days that give permission to do nothing more than stir the soup and sit by the fire. But unlike the still winter garden that gathers strength for spring, I am chided by inner voices that demand, “Get busy! Do something!” It’s hard to claim fallow time for Sabbath or retreat. The world rarely respects the rhythm of rest.

We greet one another at parties asking, “What do you do?,” rather than saying, “Tell me about yourself.” We reply by rattling off our resumes, as if preparing for a job interview. We ask each other when reuniting in the evening, “What did you accomplish today?”  We respond with a litany of checked off-items on our to-do list.  I never mention the book I read or the nap I took, and I've never had the courage to reply, "I took the day to be with God."

I confess. On afternoons when I knew my answer would be “nothing,” I have hurried through the house before my husband's return spraying air freshener, hoping the scent would leave the impression of time spent cleaning.  I have turned on an empty washing machine hoping the churning sound would suggest activity. I didn't ask, “What is wrong with this picture, or why is it so hard to give myself time to just "be?"

There is a story about a South American tribe who marched day after day, mile after mile, when all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, they stopped walking, sat down to rest for a while, and then made camp for several days before going farther.  When asked why they stopped, they explained. They needed the time of rest so their souls could catch up with them.

The ministry of Jesus models for us the spiritual importance of retreat, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31) He taught the liberating truth that it is God’s care and not our busy striving that sustains our life. Retreat is not just a getaway from chaos, but an invitation to immerse ourselves in the companionship of God.
I place another log on the fire and claim this rainy, winter day as a Sabbath day, a day of retreat, a time to wait and listen and rest before God--a time to let my soul catch up with me.  I resist the urge to “be productive,” and I give myself permission to savor the chance to sit at the feet of Jesus and to accept his invitation, “Beloved, come away with me for a while. Be still and know that I am God."

If someone were to say, "Tell me about you," rather than asking, "What do you do," how would I respond?  

Do I feel guilty if I'm not doing something?

Do I allow myself time to just be, to honor a rhythm of rest? Why? Why not.

Do I ever take time to get away for retreat?  What might that look like for me?

How might God be calling me to Sabbath time?

Prayer Practice:

Breath prayer is the most ancient and gentle form of prayer.  Take a moment to settle into stillness, begin deep, slow, rhythmic breathing. Inhale all that is of God. Exhale all that is not.  When you are ready, breathe in the words..."be still." Exhale..."and know." As you breathe, accept the embrace of God.  Return to breath prayer throughout the day to savor a moment for stillness.

Suggested verses for breath prayer:
Psalm 46:10  Be still/and know
Isaiah 43:1  I have called you by name/you are mine
Isaiah  30:15  In quietness and in trust/shall be my strength
Isaiah 43:4  You are precious in my sight/and I love you
Isaiah 43:5  Do not fear/I am with you

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Tending the Flame


A story from Bold Expectations of the Gospel by Donald J. Shelby: 

            Winter was closing in, and the supply boat had not yet arrived with reserves of oil.  The few inhabitants of the little village were facing discomfort and possible death in the cold, bleak area, for their individual oil supplies were running out.  Because they were his neighbors and because he was a compassionate man, the keeper gave away, little by little, the reserves of oil at the lighthouse.  Then one night the bright beacon light went out, and there was no oil to feed the flickering flame.  The very supply ship bringing the needed reserves of oil was driven onto the rocky coast and destroyed.

            It is only a story, but it suggests this truth about life.  We are never to give away the oil of our lamp, be it ever so little.  Our gift is the flame.  It is blessed to give, but it is also blessed to keep, to reverence our own life.  If we do not rest, we soon will not be able to communicate.  To give to others, we must keep something for ourselves.  Before going out to serve others in the name of God, we let God in to serve and recreate us. 

“Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while.”  (Mark 6:31)

  • Do I give reverence to my own life?
  • Do I set aside time to tend the flame?  When? How firm is that commitment?  
  • What renews my spirit?