“All of the animals in the forest are your family”

One mark of a great story is the way it is passed on from one story-teller to another. This is how good stories become even better.

I’d like to share a story told in the book Created Equal by author Ernie Bringas, who in turn read it from The Way of the Wolf by Martin Bell. If you like the story, pass it on.

The story is about “a brown, furry, lop-eared bunny named Barrington, who found himself sadly alone on Christmas Eve.” All the indented paragraphs that follow are Bringas’ words:

All of the other forest animals had gotten together in ther respective homes to celebrate Christmas. But as far as Barrington knew, he was the only bunny in the forest, and he had no family with which to party. He attempted to join a family of squirrels, but was turned away from their festivities because he bore no physical resemblance to them. He was again rejected by a family of beavers for the same reason. His eyes filling with tears, he sadly turned for home, resigned to spending Christmas Eve alone. Almost home, he heard the excited squeaking of field mice beneath the ground.

“It’s a party,” thought Barrington. And suddenly he blurted out through his tears, “Hello, field mice. This is Barrington Bunny. May I come to your party?”

But the wind was howling so loudly and Barrington was sobbing so much that no one heard him.

Suddenly, Barrington was aware that he was not alone. He looked up and strained his shiny eyes to see who was there.

To his surprise, he saw a great silver wolf. The wolf was large and strong and his eyes flashed fire. He was the most beautiful animal Barrington had every seen . . .

The wolf spoke. “Barrington,” he asked in a gentle voice, “why are you sitting in the snow?”

“Because it’s Christmas Eve,” said Barrington, “and I don’t have any family, and bunnies aren’t any good to anyone.”

The wolf assured Barrington that bunnies are very good indeed because they can hop, and they are very warm; these are unique gifts, and every gift given to anyone is given for a reason. The silver wolf told him that someday he would understand why being warm and furry is no small matter.

“But it’s Christmas,” moaned Barrington, “and I’m all alone. I don’t have any family at all.”

“Of course you do,” replied the great silver wolf. “All of the animals in the forest are your family.”

And then the wolf disappeared. He simply wasn’t there. Barrington had only blinked his eyes, and when he looked — the wolf was gone.

“All of the animals in the forest are my family,” thought Barrington.

The outcome of this story is that during the ice-cold winter night, Barrington Bunny rescued a lost, young field mouse by sheltering him with his furry body. This dangerous and selfless act carried a terrible price for Barrington.

Next morning, the field mice found their litle boy, asleep in the snow, warm and snug under the furry carcass of a dead bunny. Their relief and excitement was so great that they didn’t even think to question where the bunny had come from.

After the field mice had left, Barrington’s frozen body simply lay in the snow. There was no sound except that of the howling wind. And no one anywhere in the forest noticed the great silver wolf who came to stand beside that brown, lop-eared carcass.

But the wolf did come.

And he stood there.

Without moving or saying a word.

Until it was night.

And then he disappeared into the forest.

It is not difficult to recognize certain biblical themes in this moving story: caring for the neighbor, the giving of one’s life as the greatest expression of live, and the ever present spirit of God in the shadow of death. We all will interpret the story of Barrington Bunny according to our own sensitivities.

As for me, I was also moved by the great silver wolf when he said to Barrington, “All of the animals in the forest are your family.” Shortly thereafter, Barrington rethinks these words while shielding the tiny mouse from the deadly cold: “All of the animals in the forest are your family.”

The inclusiveness of the animal kingdom is what touches my spirit here. Unfortunately, we often tend to be separatists in that we speak of the human family and the “animal family” as if they were unrelated.

The case of human equality is offered in the spirit of Barrington Bunny, who with the help of the silver wolf, came to understand the underlying oneness with all creatures.

All of the animals in the forest are your family.

End of quote from Created Equal by Ernie Bringas.

This is how we in the Philippine Greens put it: we are part of the great community of species, with whom we share a common ecological home. This is the basis of an ecological worldview that is becoming even more important in an era of increasingly powerful technologies, unbridled corporations, and mostly apathetic citizenry.

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