Rabbit Tracks

February 9, 1997

Mark 1:38 – Jesus answered, "We must go on to the other villages round here. I have to preach in them also, because that is why I came."

Before I retired from gainful employment, I used to walk to the university nearly every day, summer and winter. In the winter I found myself intrigued by the rabbit tracks that crossed my path in the snow, particularly in the park lying between the university and my home. The tracks were fairly random in their distribution, coming and going in all directions. That was fine, but closer examination showed that the randomness was modified by the fact that most of the rabbits – about 70{8395b6ce96fcf25a14d80edc3b65c36a8995b6c1ba5f8c16ac11d8adaa79f35b} of them – were left-footed. This could be deduced from the impressions of two front feet followed by two hind feet in the fresh snow – two in front, two behind, wherein the pairs of feet never hit the ground together – always the left or right was there first for a given rabbit. And most rabbits, I found, had their left feet striking the ground first. Hence, they were referred to, by me, as being left-footed, in the same way that the rest of us are largely right-handed (and right-footed, unless the military got to us first!).

God's world is pretty random, with the business of free will being widely respected everywhere. Yet within all that free will we have patterns of behaviour the roots of which are uniquely obscure. We travel our random paths in our secular and spiritual lives, but within that travel we exhibit patterns that are less than random. We do our random walking, but there is something very powerful affecting the pattern of that random walking in our spiritual journeys. Some of it is culturally imprinted but a significant portion of it may be based on something far more deeply rooted. Rabbits do not go to rabbit lessons in leaping, but we do. Rabbits follow some pre-built pattern of non-random behaviour. Beyond our public participation in spiritual walking – that has been largely culturally imprinted – there is still some kind of special imprint guiding us in our very private being.

Reginald Bibby insists that we – all of us in the church and the great unwashed as well – are spiritual creatures, and he might well be correct. It may be that we are seeking and responding in some way to deep-rooted instincts that we cannot articulate in our own random walks, much less respond directly to. It would be easy to say that Christ, above all, was in touch with those spiritual instincts and used them effectively in his earthly ministry in connecting with his people, two thousand years ago… and ever since.

Prayer: Gracious God, help us to search out our deepest roots of spiritual understanding so that we may fulfil your purpose more effectively in this random world. Amen.

About the author:

Gordon Hodgson
(deceased)

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