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, May 26, 2011

Thou Shalt Not Kill

"Bunny, I want you to know, when we get to the church, if you start across the aisle to kill anybody, I’m going to trip you.”

I can’t believe those words spoken in a tender, but serious, voice were part of my life. I laugh now at the image my brother-in-law and I must have presented standing at the kitchen sink, two mostly normal people, looking out the window, conversing in matter-of-fact tones unbefitting the topic. 

Cecil was referring to my homicidal threats made the previous day when I was told my ex-husband planned to attend Tara’s service.  Funerals have a way of attracting people from the past.  Some are more welcome than others.

Upon hearing the news, heartache for my daughter resurfaced. Smoldering anger reignited as I recalled her life-long struggle with the wound of abandonment.  I thought I had forgiven and forgotten, but my intense reaction to this reemergence at the sacred time of her death proved me wrong. Sometimes it’s easy to forgive at a distance, but not so easy close up.
Perhaps it was Cecil's loving tone that inspired me, maybe it was the wild fluctuation of emotions that accompany bereavement. In spite of his stated intention to tackle me, I was suddenly overwhelmed with affection. I desperately wanted to convey the depth of my fondness and my appreciation to Cecil for his support over the years, especially during this nightmare. Perhaps it would have been best had I postponed that conversation until I was thinking just a tad more clearly. 

“Cecil, I've always thought if I wanted someone killed, I could count on you.”

Did those words really come from my mouth?  Whatever made me think Cecil would hear that as a compliment? I was obviously under the influence of grief. It's true that in the South if we love you, we might spray paint your name on a bridge, but we certainly don’t tell a man we love him because he would be our go-to guy if, as we say, someone “needed killin'." 

If Cecil thought I had dropped a few floors from the top, he didn't show it. He must have understood sorrow addled my brain and led to my bizarre commendation.  Instead, he gently reassured me that of course I could count on him, but it didn't need to be "today." People will say anything to keep a grief-crazed mother calm. 

The Cox men are men of few words. Their vocabularies might not always be tactful or politically correct, but they get the job done.  In spite of Cecil's choice of action verb followed by a personal pronoun, that morning standing in my kitchen, my murder spree momentarily in check, he gave me some of the best spiritual advice I’ve ever received. He ended our absurd conversation with these words of wisdom:  “Bunny, sometimes you just have to look the devil in the eye and say f--- you.”  I think that’s Cecil for “Get thee behind me Satan.” 

The thing that was most shocking was not Cecil’s choice of words, but my eventual realization that the devil I needed to look in the eye and curse was not my intended murder victim, but my own inability, after all these years, to forgive. 


"To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you."--Lewis B. Smedes

"When a deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive."--Alan Paton

Ephesians 4:27 Anger gives foothold to the devil.

"You will know that forgiveness has begun when you recall those who have hurt you and feel the power to wish them well." --Lewis B. Smedes

--Is there someone in my life who is difficult to forgive? Why?

--What are my thoughts about the statement that forgiveness is the road to freedom? Do I agree? Why? Why not?

--Is it easier for me to forgive others than to forgive myself?


The Prayer of St. Francis:

Make me an instrument of your peace;
Where there is hatred, let me plant love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
Grant that I may not so much seek to be comforted as to comfort;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Lady At All Times

As a girl raised in the South, I was taught there are certain things a lady does not do.  My grandmother told me ladies do not to say “sweat.”  Ladies “perspire.”  They don’t say “shut-up.” That’s rude. Ladies don’t say “stink” or “nasty.” I never knew exactly why. Maybe, as my grandmother said, it would be “ordinary.”  It goes without saying Southern ladies do not cuss, especially in public and never in front of her parents.  That would be tacky. 

I was calm when my parents and sister arrived to grieve with me when my daughter Tara died. They seemed relieved to find me composed and standing upright. Perhaps they expected to discover me in a fetal position. We whispered soft words of consolation to each other, but within minutes, I lost my grip on self-control when a call came that stirred old bitterness and shattered my thin veneer of serenity. Tara's 30-year-absent biological father planned to come to her funeral. Maybe it was the excuse I needed to let go, or maybe there wasn't room within me for even one more drop of anger, but that's when the pressure of unreleased pain and uncried tears for Tara breached any effort to contain them, and I flung a great big, old-fashioned, full-fledged hissy fit. It was not a pretty sight. 

I wailed. I cussed. I hurled expletives unbecoming a lady. I made inappropriate inquiries about the present location of the shotgun, and offered suggestions for its  use. I spat profanities with incomprehensible, perplexing ferocity until exhaustion took over and rage was spent.  I didn't recognize then that my misplaced outbursts were the groans of my heart under a self-imposed burden of guilt for having failed to protect my child. Maybe every mother whose child dies believes she could have--should have done something to prevent it. 

My rant ended as abruptly as it began. I’m surprised those poor wide-eyed, white-faced observers didn’t get whiplash when it ceased. My mother, father, and sister stared, speechless.  Taking a deep breath, I gathered myself, sat down, crossed my legs properly at the ankles, and stated sweetly in a manner befitting a Southern lady, “Well now, I think that’s over.” 

You never know the depth of someone’s loyalty until they come to your rescue on the day when you are your very worst.  In a generous attempt to normalize my behavior and ease my embarrassment, my sister Carolyn stepped into the awkward silence  and sacrificed her own public image on my behalf. With an unparalleled show of solidarity, and ignoring the presence of others who had gathered, she revealed a secret known to few.  

"Daddy," she calmly announced, “You probably don’t know this, but all three of your daughters can cuss like that.”

Now that’s loyalty. 


James 3:2   For we all stumble in many ways.

“Other things may change us, but we start and end with family.” ~Anthony Brandt

“Under certain circumstances, urgent circumstances, desperate circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer.”~Mark Twain

“He can swear and still be a gentleman if he does it in a nice and benevolent and affectionate way”~Mark Twain

--Have I experienced unconditional love? What did it feel like?

--Is there someone who needs my compassion and understanding?

 --Do I need to give myself the compassion and understanding I would give others?

--Are there burdens I carry that want to be put down?


Sometimes we carry intense emotions because we are not ready to forget. Write about the burdens of your heart and mind. Don’t edit. Don’t worry about spelling or your choice of words.  Write until you have nothing left to say.  Put what you wrote in a safe, private place. Capturing our concerns and emotions in this way frees the mind from ruminating on thoughts that burden us. When we write about them, we can symbolically put them aside. They are there should we feel the need to retrieve them. In the meantime, the mind is relieved of the daily burden of having to remember. 

When the time is right (you will know), dispose of what you wrote in a holy, sacred and symbolic way.  Example: You may wish to bury the pages with prayers of thanksgiving for healing and renewal.  Or you may wish to shred or burn the pages, mix the remains with potting soil and prayers, and use to nurture growth and new life. 

Friday, May 13, 2011


Gardenias release their heady scent and brighten the moon-washed garden.  Magnolias perfume the earth.  A hint of jasmine floats on the breeze and flows over us like a soothing balm.  We inhale the healing fragrance from God as if to capture the consolations of creation. Through the scents of the garden, God reminds us to breathe.

It seems unimaginable that we could forget this most primal function, but we do.  Our breath becomes shallow when we grieve, when we worry, whenever life overwhelms us.  We hold our breath, denying ourselves the blessing it brings--renewal, peace, relief.  Perhaps that is why the most ancient form of prayer is breath prayer.  When we breathe deeply, we reconnect with the breath of God and the life force given to us at birth.    When we breathe deeply, we clear the way for God’s healing grace and release all that gets in the way.  When we tend to our breath, our breath becomes our prayer.

The rose blooms.  Honeysuckle seeks the sun. Through the scents of the garden, God reminds us to breathe.  Through the scents the garden, God reminds us to pray.


"In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:10)

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”~John Burroughs


Let the scents of spring be a reminder of God’s faithful presence. Let the fragrances of spring be a reminder to pray.  Breathe in all that is of God.  Breathe out all that is not. Let your breath become your wordless prayer. 

A special note to friends and neighbors affected by April tornadoes and all who have experienced natural disasters:  We grieve, not only for lives lost, but for the damaged earth.  Find a place nearby where you can be still in the beauty of creation, and remember that even as you are reading this, the earth is renewing itself.  Let the earth give comfort.  Remember to breathe.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Green Again

A special note to my friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters who suffer after the unthinkable  devastation of April 27 tornadoes: We are all surrounded by places of grief where only days ago roses bloomed. Our hearts ache. Now more than ever we need to hold tightly to the resurrection lessons of Spring and remember to "claim every little bit of healing." (See post for 3/29/11-Journey of the Heart.) We must take comfort in remembering that even after the most devastating of forest fires, the scorched earth eventually returns to green.  --Bunny 

We are in the resurrection season of Spring. In spring we move from the darkness of winter into light. We are comforted by the balance of things, the shape, the color, the scent, the touch, the song of the earth. Beauty heals us, thrills us, and connects us once again to the yearning for life.

In spring, it is as if God lifts us onto his lap, knowing the winter has been cold and the nights long.   Like a child with scraped knees and a broken heart, He enfolds us with consoling arms, and by the greening of the earth,  kisses the top of our head, whispering, "It’s alright. It’s alright.”


Matthew 28:6 He is not here; he has risen.

For the beauty of the earth,
For the splendor of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies:
Source of all, to thee we raise 
This our hymn of grateful praise.
--Hymn, Folliet Pierpoint

Song of Solomon 2: 
For now the winter is past,
the rain is over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth;
the time of singing has come.

The earth laughs in flowers--Ralph Waldo Emerson

--Is there a place where I can see signs or rebirth, healing, new life in the midst of suffering and pain?

--When in my life have I known healing and rebirth?

--Is there something in me that wants to grow? Something new that wants to be born? How can I nurture that?

--Is there a winter place within me that can find comfort in the lessons of spring?

Practice: Go for a Sabbath walk. Walk slowly and silently. Let your senses be your guide. If you are drawn to a leaf, a stone, a color, stop and linger. Take all the time you need to hear its secrets. Do not hurry. There is no place to go. Follow your own timing and curiosity. When you are called to begin again, move on. That is all.

Practice: Pray for tornado victims and other victims of natural disasters using Litany in Time of Trouble. (See post for  a 4/30/11-Let Us Pray)