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."

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Amazing Grace

Time crawls when you are a child. The days from one summer to the next pass agonizingly slow. The wait for Christmas seems interminable.  A month is viewed as a major portion of life.  I remember when I was a child, I expected to grow up, get married, have children, and die. I had no concept of life after twelve, much less forty. Without the benefit of longevity, a child is unable to see possibility beyond the present moment or hear wisdom in “this too shall pass.”

I can only imagine how endless the year after his mother’s death must have seemed to my twelve-year-old grandson Spencer, who remained in his father’s household, or how difficult it must have been for him to endure reoccurring, month-long stretches of solitude in his room as punishment for disappointing grades. On infrequent occasions when we were allowed to speak, I heard the monotonous drone of lost hope in his voice. Panic rose that Spencer might resort to the unthinkable--self-injury--as a solution to suffering.

It is difficult to grieve for the departed.  It is unbearable to fear for the life of a child as you watch, desperate, but powerless, to rescue.

“He’s not going to make it. He’s not going to make it,” I cried, rocking back and forth in anguish, my arms clutched across my body in a comfortless self-embrace.  “We’re going to lose him, too! We’re going to lose him, too! I can’t get well.  I can’t get well,” I wailed.  

“Bunny, stop,” my spiritual director said gently. “Let’s pray. Let’s pray about it right now.”

I had prayed my daughter Tara would live. I prayed her baby Alden would live. Both of them died. Asking for the outcome I desired seemed pointless, and praying aloud in the company of another felt awkward and uncomfortable. But I was in no condition to protest. I choked out words between sobs.

“God, please,” I begged. “God please. . .please let Spencer come to us,” I cried.

It’s odd the things that go through a mind in times like that.  I knew my prayer was heartfelt, but I suddenly wondered if it were proper.  Self-conscious of my words, I struggled to stifle emotion. “What I mean, God,” I said, “if it sounds like a good idea to you--it sounds good to me—if you think it is a good idea, too, please let him come. Please let Spencer come home.” That was as close as I could come to “thy will be done,” before my feeble attempt at decorum failed, and I relapsed into shameless petition. 

“And God, please, please let it be his father’s idea,” I begged.  “I can’t take anymore. I can’t take anymore.” I said, collapsing into uncontrollable sobs.

I confess I had no hope of intervention. I suppose I should feel guilty about that, and I would, had not my spiritual director later told me that when I got to the part about “let it me his father’s idea,” even she thought, “I don’t think that is going to happen.”

One week later:

Sam answered the phone.  Sam never answers the phone. He says it is pointless because it is never for him, but that day he did.  In hindsight it seems like one of those unexplainable, serendipitous, preordained coincidences.  I wouldn’t have stayed as calm.  

At first when Sam remained silent, I thought the caller had dialed the wrong number.  When Sam spoke, my breath caught. "Yes," he said calmly, but firmly, "But we will need legal guardianship to get him into school and to take care of him if he needs medical attention. 

Spencer’s father asked if Spencer could come live with us.

The next day:

Sam answered the phone again.  This time I heard him say, “Let me call you back.”

Sam hung up the phone, walked to the window and stared into the backyard. His fists were clinched by his side. I stood behind him and waited for him to tell me what had been said.   

“He’s not going to throw that kid away like that. I’m not going to let him!” he said through gritted teeth. His voice was thick with battled tears.

Spencer’s father wanted us to adopt Spencer. 

I waited until Sam’s breath resumed a normal rhythm before speaking.

“Sam,” I put my hand on his shoulder, “It isn’t our job to make this man be a good father. It is our job is to save Spencer.”

Blessings sometime arrive wearing strange clothing. It was difficult to see grace in a request that sounded like abandonment, but slowly, a realization dawned. Beyond the spoken words of prayer, beyond anything I could have hoped or asked for, God heard the cry of my heart. Spencer was coming, but more than that, Spencer was going to be safe. No one would ever be able to take him again.   

Two weeks later:

Spencer revealed no emotion as we left his father’s house. We drove in silence before he finally spoke.

“Do I have to go back?” he asked.

“Never,” said Sam.

And with that one “forever” word, Spencer smiled.


"He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted." - Job 9:10

“Grow flowers of gratitude in the soil of prayer.”~Terri Guillemets

“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”~St. Julian of Norwich

“God may not always come exactly when you call him, but he is always on time.”~Lemon, Brooklyn street poet

*“He’ll come back to you,” my lawyer-friend said, a tear spilling onto his cheek, “I don’t know when it will be, but I believe he’ll come back to you.”~ A wise man, who dared to give difficult advice and refused to let bridges be burned. (*Thin Boards--From The Big Red Chair, September 21, 2011.)

-What is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given? Did it exceed my expectations? If so, how?

-Did that gift happen because of anything I did or didn’t do?

-How do I define grace?

Friday, February 17, 2012


Grief has its own timetable. It is unique to the individual and each circumstance of loss. It cannot be rushed. It cannot be decided away regardless of how the griever or world wants to move on, get over it, suck it up, in short, do whatever it takes to get back to “normal.”  Trying to effect a resurrection of sorts by demanding a griever rise from sorrow is a like trying to climb out of a pit by pushing a rope.  It doesn’t work. Perhaps it is because the challenge isn’t about whether to grieve or not to grieve; it is about whether to live.  Sooner or later every griever must make that choice. It isn’t as simple as it may sound.  Returning to life from the gray existence of sorrow feels like abandoning the only remaining link to our loved one--our tears.

Living is more than an accidental combination of matter and form comprised of cells that continuously convert chemicals into energy.  Life is more than the autonomic nervous system functioning below the level of consciousness, reminding the brain to think, the heart to beat, and the lungs to inhale oxygen and expel carbon dioxide. Life, real life, is about seeing beauty in the world and about experiencing joy, something a griever doesn’t believe will ever happen again.

I breathed in and I breathed out, but the monotony of sorrow following Tara’s death and baby Alden’s death could hardly be described as living. Nothing interested me. Nothing intrigued me. I looked forward to nothing.

One lonely morning, when I questioned my ability to survive another moment of crushing grief, I heard gentle words more tender than the first violet of spring.   

“Bunny, there is still beauty in the world.”

I found myself pondering, “Is there anything that brings me joy?”

I searched the depths of memory and finally recalled a source of joy that hasn’t changed since I first discovered its decadent pleasure as a girl.  I love Chanel No. 5. 

I retrieved a half-empty bottle from the back of a dresser drawer and placed it beside my big red chair.  For months, whenever grief overwhelmed me, I removed the glass stopper, inhaled the fragrance, and repeated the mantra: “There are still beautiful things in this world.”

Who knew God could package healing and resurrection within the confines of a tiny glass bottle?

I have always thought of resurrection as a one-time, not-of-this-world, reserved-for-Jesus, spectacular event.  I've assumed resurrection requires a burst of energy and a flash of glory bright enough to burn the image of the resurrected onto a burial cloth or a power grand enough to roll away an enormous stone.  Perhaps there is more. Perhaps the miracle of resurrection happens around us every day, but goes unnoticed.  

Maybe resurrection is hope that floats unnoticed on a warm breeze at winter’s end. Maybe it is a tiny green shoot of grass that dares to raise its head after a terrible fire marches across the earth. Maybe it is as delicate as the scent of perfume mingled with her tears that Mary used to wash the feet of Jesus (John 12:3).

In time, I resolved to honor the life of my child by choosing life. I resolved I would not only breathe in and breathe out, I would live, and I would live abundantly, as she –and God –would have it.

And I will look for beauty in this world. 

I didn’t know it then, but the path I walked in the shadow of death had begun a gentle rise from the valley floor toward life. It began with a whispered reminder from God and the fragrance of heaven contained in a little bottle of Chanel No. 5.


Isaiah 40:30-31 “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.”

“For in the dark stretches of life, the most difficult discipline of all is not that of soaring or even running. It consists of ‘keeping on keeping on’ when events have slowed you to a walk, when it seems that in spite of everything you are going to crumple under the load and faint away.”~John Claypool, Tracks of a Fellow Struggler.

"Find a place inside where there's joy, and the joy will burn out the pain."~Joseph Campbell

"Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day."~ 
Henri J.M. Nouwen

"Joy is a mystery because it can happen anywhere, anytime, even under the most unpromising circumstances, even in the midst of suffering, with tears in its eyes...."~Frederick Buechner

-Where do I see beauty in the world?
-What brings me joy?

Morning sun, let your soft light fall gently,
Gently upon all that has grown dim in our lives.
Morning sun, pour yourself into places where we are weary,
Morning sun, refresh our bodies and our hearts.
Let us step into this new day as ones,
As ones expecting miracles.
May we live this day with the presence of disciples of joy!
~ Macrina Wiederkehr