Read this post over at In the Hush of the Moon. I understand the feeling of watching a little guy growing up...my youngest is going to be four in a couple weeks. Four is NOT a baby. I've asked him to stay three but he said no. sigh.
But this post isn't about that. This post is about The Runaway Bunny that Emily referenced in her post. I read the snippets from the book that she included and that thing happened that often does when I read a children's book: a little piece of truth went around to the back door of my brain, snuck in quietly and sat down when I wasn't looking. Funny how that happens.
I have tried several times, in several venues, to write about why I don't believe there can be a hell. It's because I am a mother and I know how I love my three little ones. And I'm not even the best, most well-balanced, unselfish mother, either...but I'm their mama. So as a mama, with a mama's heart (and I daresay it's similar in a daddy's heart), I can't help but love my children unconditionally. I don't know how to do otherwise. My heart says the words of The Runaway Bunny (below) right along with Mama Bunny. My heart already knows these words by heart because they mirror it perfectly.
The words of my heart, and any mama's heart, are not the voice of a God who made a hell with a door that opens "in"....but not "out." Not ever. Maybe as my friend, Jonathan, suggests in his book, the verse about hell's gates means you can leave hell when you want to, that it's not God's hand pushing you back into the hottest part of the fiery inferno to make sure you really "get" how stupid you were to not believe in Jesus and his death on the cross, the inerrancy of the Bible, or whatever.
So read the words of Runaway Bunny as the words of God, if there is one. Don't even bother trying not to cry:
Once there was a little bunny who wanted to run away. So he said to his mother, “I am running away.”
“If you run away,” said his mother, “I will run after you. For you are my little bunny.”
“If you run after me,” said the little bunny,“I will become a fish in a trout stream and I will swim away from you.”
“If you become a fish in a trout stream,” said his mother,“I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.”
“If you become a fisherman,” said the little bunny,“I will become a rock on the mountain, high above you.”
“If you become a rock on the mountain high above me,” said his mother, “I will become a mountain climber, and I will climb to where you are.”
“If you become a mountain climber,” said the little bunny, “I will be a crocus in a hidden garden.”
“If you become a crocus in a hidden garden,” said his mother, “I will be a gardener. And I will find you.”
“If you are a gardener and find me,” said the little bunny, “I will be a bird and fly away from you.”
“If you become a bird and fly away from me,” said his mother, “I will be a tree that you come home to.”
“If you become a tree,” said the little bunny, “I will become a little sailboat, and I will sail away from you.”
“If you become a sailboat and sail away from me,” said his mother, “I will become the wind and blow you where I want you to go.”
“If you become the wind and blow me,” said the little bunny, “I will join a circus and fly away on a flying trapeze.”
“If you go flying on a flying trapeze,” said his mother,“I will be a tightrope walker, and I will walk across the air to you.”
“If you become a tightrope walker and walk across the air,” said the bunny, “I will become a little boy and run into a house.”
“If you become a little boy and run into a house,” said the mother bunny, “I will become your mother and catch you in my arms and hug you.”
“Shucks,” said the bunny, “I might just as well stay where I am and be your little bunny.”
And so he did.
“Have a carrot,” said the mother bunny.
What do you think? It touches something deep inside, that something that whispers, "That's the love I've waited my whole life for."
So, as you know, if you read my blog, I really am not sure about there being a God "out there." However, I am sure that I love my kids with that love that runs after a runaway child and never gives up. I can't help it. I feel it. I don't have to believe it...I know it. And a God who doesn't love that way...I have no use for.
A God who doesn't just not chase down his child, forever, but actually goes so far as to create a place of eternal punishment for that child, just because he or she "didn't get it"...that is a God that does not love like a mother does. If God is real and I am made in his image, how is that possible?
I dearly love one translation of the word, "Shaddaim," one of the names of God in the Old Testament: "a God with breasts." I know how my kids' eyes looked up at me when they nursed as infants. That utter rest, peace and satisfaction. A mother with milk in her breasts doesn't give sustenance when her baby acts like he loves her enough. In fact, if she waits too long to give the rooting infant what he wants, the milk begins to leak out! A nursing mother becomes the most terrifying being in the universe if someone tries to tear her nursing baby from her breast.
So, as Emily eloquently describes, when that same infant becomes a toddler and toddles away, a mother is watching a piece of herself walk away. I have no idea how it feels to watch them move out when they reach adulthood; I don't even want to begin to think about it. All I know is no matter how far my children try to go from me, I will always find them.
I'll storm the very gates of hell if I have to.