As I was replenishing the rabbits’ food supply the smell of hay brought me back to the days with my sisters being in that barn every day.
Growing up on a farm I learned dedication at an early age. The animals had to be fed and watered every day regardless of how of cold it was outside. In the winter my sisters and I would pile on the overalls, winter hats, gloves, boots, and make our way to the barn. If the animals’ water had turned to ice we had to break it up and provide new water. It required carrying two ten gallon buckets across the long graveled barnyard which was quite heavy for a little girl. Filled with horses, rabbits, a couple of dogs and often a new litter of kittens, rabbit poop and hay, that barn seemed impossible to keep clean. When you opened the barn doors there was always work to be done.
In order to free ourselves from the daily feedings and massive poop clean up, one Spring day my sisters and I had taken all our rabbits in the middle of the alfalfa field to run free (in our minds). While I have fond memories growing up on a farm and am thankful for the values it taught me like hard work and dependability, I did NOT miss the chores. After shedding many tears due to pets “going missing”, I also learned not to grow too close to the animals on the farm.
I had thought that Spring day was the last time I would ever be cleaning up after rabbits. Now years later, my daughter’s desire convinced me to agree to be part of the Bunny Brigade at the Human Society. Typically it was my daughter that handled the rabbits. I typically just went through the cleanup motions as an obligation to my daughter. Yet this morning was different.
When I started the task of removing the first bunny from its cage I could still hear my daughter’s response to my unhealthy comment the night before.
“Why do you feel I owe you for helping out animals?” She had wisely replied.
Her come-back had left me in silence and in thought. Even though it was not her fault she had another obligation, I had been irritated that it was her idea. I was once again stuck. It wasn’t right to reschedule as they had counted on us showing up.
Over the course of the morning, smelling that hay brought back memories. After petting and holding that rabbit I started to realize my core issues. My daughter was innocent. The truth is I had built up a blockade to not feel anything for those rabbits. I had left myself cry too hard too many times when I lost them and quit seeing them as something to love and enjoy. By resisting vulnerability I killed my own joy. The experience became an unwanted task because I resorted to just going through the motions.
Can you relate? Are you currently stuck and find something you used to enjoy has now turned into something you dread? Have you let yourself become bitter for feeling out of control of something in your life? Or have you even become detached to someone or something to prevent yourself from being vulnerable?
When you experience yourself feeling irritable, examine the root of it? Dig deep and ask yourself, “why do you feel that way?” Randy Creamer the lead teaching counselor at Southbrook Church then says to ask, “How are you going to find your joy if nothing changes?”
What is holding you back from experiencing joy? What is it you have control over? What can you change to become unstuck? What are you going to do about it?
Until we dig deep about what it is that is really leaving us annoyed about our life, we will keep living each day as a daily ritual and soon our life will have passed us by. We can choose to live with a dark cloud over us or we can choose to live in the light. It is our choice.
For me, after working through the answers to those questions I began to see again. I was able to see those rabbits as God’s creations who needed care. The bitterness was replaced with delight. I also could see the positive…at least those rabbits were not in my old barn, it was not the dead of winter, and no ice needed to be broken. It was only me who needed to warm up inside.
What can you do right now to enjoy this very moment? Examine the beauty around you right now! It is there, you just need to look for it. Begin truly seeing again like you are experiencing whatever it is in front of you for the first time. Let your appreciation be known. Focus on the blue sky rather than the work required. It is amazing what doors will begin to open! Doors to a more enjoyable life!
Barn Photograph was taken near Terre Haute, IN in 2019