How our family pets taught us about the extremes in life – Ecclesiastes 3:1-15, Part 2

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

When she was about 7 years old, we got our daughter Meagan a floppy-eared rabbit named Bun Bun which we kept in a hutch outside on our side deck.  Every day before school, Meg would go out there to peek on Bun Bun, say Hi, and see how her rabbit was doing.  There really wasn’t much work involved in taking care of Bun Bun, so I thought she was a great pet.  Feed her, fill up her water bottle, and clean out her hutch, which included giving her shredded paper she could burrow in on cold nights. Simple, and most of all, outside.

The only exception to how easy it was to care for Bun Bun was when the temperature dropped below freezing.  Then, just to be safe, we would move the entire hutch into the laundry room, and that was a fussy chore.  The hutch just barely fit through the door, took up almost all the floor space in the laundry room, and depending on how long it had been since we cleaned the hutch, it could stink really bad, especially if the cold weather lasted for a more than a few days.

My family was soon going to learn a personal lesson in what the Teacher in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 describes as “a season for everything under the sun.” In the previous post, I mentioned that the words of the Teacher’s poem illustrate the extremes in life. In verse 2, the Teacher describes what is perhaps the most foundational of those extremes, “there is a time to be born, and a time to die.”

After doing carting the rabbit hutch inside and outside throughout three winters, that verse became all too real.  One night, we looked at the weather report and it was going to be around freezing, and we thought, Bun Bun will be fine, she made it through other nights that were colder than this, so we didn’t move the hutch inside.

The next morning Meg woke up, went out to check on Bun Bun, and came right back in screaming that Bun Bun was not moving.  I thought, Can’t be…  Well, to use the words of verse 2, this was a time to die.  Bun Bun was frozen stiff.  We felt awful.  Meg was a mess. For Meg, to use the words of verse 4, it was a time to mourn. 

Soon enough the sadness passed, and Meg got a new idea.  She proposed that we get a guinea pig.  We had previously had a hamster, and it ran on its wheel nonstop and smelled, so I wasn’t too keen on a guinea pig.  I didn’t grow up with pets, and am totally fine without them.  For me, I should have followed the words of verse 7, a time to be silent.  But for whatever reason, I decided it was a time to speak.  As Meg was asking for a guinea pig, I opened my mouth and said, “I would rather us get a dog, than a guinea pig.”  All of sudden, for Meg, it was verse 4, a time for laughing and dancing.  I think it was also, verse 5, a time to embrace, as I got some hugs out of that. 

I don’t know what got into me.  Why did I say that?  I think all I was doing was illustrating that I didn’t want another animal inside the house.  But I couldn’t take back my words, as my daughter was elated. That launched Michelle and Meg into verse 6, a time for searching.  They made a list of all the qualities they were looking for in a dog.  Then they visited the humane league and the ASPCA and they looked online and searched and searched for just the right dog that fit the list.  After much looking they finally found Bentley.  Though it is not precisely the words of verse 2, a time to be born, because we adopted Bentley when he was two years old, there was still a sense that he was born anew into our family.  Very quickly it was just like verse 8, a time to love, as my family loves Bentley. 

But not so much for me.  Like I said, I did not grow up in a pet family.  We would have pets, but they never lasted long.  And remember how I didn’t want another animal in the house?  Now we this fairly large animal walking around our house all the time, needing to go out, barking super loud when anyone comes in the driveway, and shedding everywhere!  So for me, back in verse 8, it was more like a time to hate, though that is perhaps a bit strong. 

You know the crazy part? From nearly the first moment I walked in the house on the day Michelle and Meg brought Bentley home, he seems to have decided that I was his person!  He would follow me around everywhere, and often still does.  If I would go to the bathroom, he waited outside the door.  I was not a fan of all this following.  But in a couple weeks I decided to see how he would do if I took him on a run.  I run quite a bit, and that was the beginning of something new.  In the nearly four years that we have had Bentley, we have logged a lot of miles together.  Now four years later, I can honestly say he has grown on me.  Back to verse 8, it is a time to love.  It is interesting how animals and people can grow on you.  From hate to love.

Life is so often a study in opposites, isn’t it?  Put another way, life is often about extremes.  So what the Teacher is describing for us is no surprise.  When we read this poem in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, we instinctively know it to be true, because it is our daily experience.  In other words, the Teacher is saying, we should not be surprised at life’s extremes. 

Yet we are still often caught off guard by the ups and especially by the downs of life, aren’t we? Is there something we can do to better prepare ourselves? Check by tomorrow!

Published by joelkime

I love my wife, Michelle, and our four kids and two daughters-in-law. I serve at Faith Church and love our church family. I teach a course online from time to time, and in my free time I love to read and exercise, especially running,

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