Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Rabbit in a Habit
(or, How God Works... Sometimes)

There once was a rabbit in a habit,
A habit that she could not shake.

She wore this habit like hair,
But her friends always knew it was fake.

Thinking that this habit was real,
No effort to change did she make.

Yes, the habit had smothered her heart,
Stealing passion, for heaven's sake!

She promised herself, "I'll never marry,"
Never a muffin in the oven to bake.

Sharing life with similar rabbits,
She needed a different take.

Then one day her best friend died.
She buried her face and deeply cried.
There was no understanding, though she tried,
When death proclaimed, "your life has lied."

Grief tightly gripped her heart,
While she was sobbing at the wake.

The urge to escape then seized her,
So, she sought solitude at a lake.

It was there that her eyes were opened,
Her heart made the target of a rake.

Though it took an event that was no fun,
Her whole heart was wholly won.
She had no place nor desire to run,
Her own spirit had been undone.
Feeling as if she would lose a ton,
Made her long habit easy to shun.

Her life, she thought and muttered out loud,
Was only death, ashes, and no piece of cake.

The rabbit in a habit had a habit no more;
Then came a knock, and she opened the door.
She became rich who once was poor,
Singing and dancing she started to soar.
God's Spirit now in her was not folklore,
Nor was tradition, ritual, or what she wore.
She was filled with the Spirit to the core,
Life would be different now, not like before.


Dwight said...

The poem is quite simple on the surface. Words rhyme at the end of each stanza, but there is no strict meter. However, there are a few other things.

1) The story is about person whose life gets stifled by an old habit. A tragic event causes her to re-think her habit. In doing so, she realizes her life is meaningless. So, she gives up the habit and discovers a whole new life with God.

2) The habit can also be interpreted as a Catholic nun's habit; note the language about it being worn. The poem is critical of a Catholic nun whose life has become more about tradition and ritual. She is defined by what she wears, not what God can make her.

3) This comment is about the structure. There are two sets of stanzas, one odd in number and shrinking, the other even in number and growing. The odd stanzas (in groups of 5, 3, and then 1) are her life with the habit going away. The even stanzas (in groups of 4, 6, and 8) are increasingly transitional toward her new life in Christ. (Though Christ's name is not mentioned, the implication is there through the biblical gospel message.)

Do you see any more?

Katherine said...


I got the "habit" play on words right off. But I'm curious--are you saying all people who wear religious garb allow that garb to define them? Or is this a particular person? Must the woman give up the habit to grow?

The other thing that jumped out at me was the rake. When we read about meditation, we understand that reaching deeper levels can be achieved by simple, repetitive action such as chanting, bowing-- or even raking. We see the technique used in many religions. Buddhism especially came to mind not only because Buddhists use this practice, but also because I was listening to some clips of the Dalai Lama:

Dwight said...

No, the habit as a garb is not a critique of nuns in general, nor a particular person I know. However, the Catholic nun in this story is an example of someone who did allow the garb to define them. Perhaps they sought to escape the pain in the real world by joining the convent. But, in so many ways, we all seek escape now and again, some more often than others. The principle here is that only spiritual growth is genuine growth which often requires personal pain and suffering in order to appreciate and be open to experience real joy and peace.

I'll get back to you on the rake. That's interesting!

Katherine said...

Ah! Thanks for the clarification.

Yes, when we really want a place to hide, we can use anything handy, can't we? And you are right that growth hurts. When we are children, our bodies physically hurt as we get taller and broader. Once our bodies are mature, it's just the rest of us that hurts as we grow and evolve as human beings. The same thing can be said for humanity itself.

Milli Thornton said...

Hi Dwight!

I enjoyed your poem and the ripples going outward from it. Glad to see you posting again. From the lively tone of your post, it sounds like you enjoyed and took full advantage of the creative opportunity.

Whatever analysis can be made of the individual symbols in this poem, for me, it represents someone throwing off a pall that was covering her life and learning to live again. In my own way, I've done a similar journey, so I could relate to this poem on several levels. Thank you!

Warmly ~ Milli

Dwight said...

Thanks, Milli! I'm glad you enjoyed it. "Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!" Remember that line? I did enjoy putting it together. The idea came to me over a year ago. I knew what some of the symbolism would be, but had no idea how to develop it. I actually got chills when I was putting the finishing touches on this one.

I'm delighted that most words mean two things (at least), and not all of them were initially intended. 'Wake', for example, fits not just because it rhymes, but because emotions tend to be more raw there than at the funeral. I can remember grieving over my father's death at the wake and thinking afterward, "Wow. I don't think I could ever sob like that again." Yet, the funeral seemed so detached from reality. A few years later I had to confront his death again and I sobbed even harder. It felt like it was more than just learning how to live again. It was like realizing I was numb all that time until I sobbed.

You're comments are wonderful in that you found your own meaning in my poem. That's the fascinating thing about poems, I guess. Some of them anyway!

Take care and thank you for your work. I still enjoy your book, 'Fear of Writing,' and refer to it for ideas.