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White Rabbit

Avis Hoyt-O’Conner

The days to Christmas were winding down, and I still had not finished my father’s Christmas gift. I was almost eight. I wanted to make something grand and beautiful; and this year, I wanted to make all my gifts by myself.

I went digging in my mother’s drawer and found a pair of white pantyhose. As soon as I spied them, I knew exactly what I would make. I found other old nylons and leftover fabric. I folded each leg in half, made a few awkward stitches to keep them in place, and stuffed the upper legs. I filled the top and sewed up the waistband. To make the face, I copied the eyes, flat nose, and big teeth of my stuffed rabbit.

Then I held up my gift for inspection. Even at that point, I think I knew how ugly it was. When my brother and sister caught sight of it, they howled. They held their bellies and almost fell on the floor with laughter. Seeing the gift through their eyes, I felt shame and dismay.

Their amusement had not passed by Christmas morning, but at least they contained themselves in our parents’ presence. When I brought out my gift, I expected peels of laughter or at least a muffled chuckle. To my surprise, my father took the rabbit and expressed his appreciation with genuine love and gratitude. He didn’t gush over it in an unrealistic way or pretend it was something it wasn’t. He just thanked me and told me he would use it as a pillow on the bed to hold his hankies. My brother and sister sat quietly, their laughter stuck in their throats.

devozine Rabbit FTR TSP 92125306A kind of miracle took place that Christmas morning. My shame and dread washed away; I felt nothing but relief and gratitude. I knew I was blessed. My father’s love had transformed my ugly rabbit into a gift worthy of his appreciation. The way he saw it, not the way it looked, had made it beautiful.

I believe that God is like my father. God takes what we give; and with love, God turns it into something of great value and worth. I believe that what the world considers ugly is blessed and redeemed under the gracious eye of God. The rabbit I made for my father that Christmas reminds me that I am acceptable in the sight of God, that my gifts are worthy of God’s attention, and that my talents come to a good end not because of my own abilities or talents but only by the power of God’s goodness. By God’s grace and love, I can call myself a child of God and a follower of Jesus Christ.

 

DIG DEEPER

Reflect on this stanza from the Christmas carol “In the Bleak Midwinter”:

What can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would bring a lamb;
If I were a Wise Man, I would do my part;
Yet what I can I give him: give my heart.

What gift can you give to the Christ child this Christmas? Remember: When given in love, God takes our gifts—no matter how imperfect—and transforms them into something of worth and value.

Avis Hoyt-O’Conner is a United Methodist pastor serving as a hospice chaplain. She lives in Maryland with her husband and 15-year-old daughter, who is an Irish dancer.

—from devozine (November/December 2012). Copyright © 2012 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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