The rabbit, a young one, stood motionless in the middle of the lane as I walked to meditation early this morning. Returning a couple of hours later it was on its side, gasping for breath. One of the monks had made a fence of gardening tools, signalling us to take care. Still later in the morning it was gone. Dead, at last, and now buried.
Myxomatosis is here, again. The virus gets into the rabbits gut and it’s only a matter or time, a long slow time, before the infected creature is dead. I remember when, in the early 1950’s, this disease struck the rabbits in our part of Sussex. We were near the Kent boarder where it was first discovered. Spread by accident or design, nobody is sure. This was my first encounter with slow death. I’d seen road kill often enough. Those gasping animals in beside the road left a deep impression on me.
Most of us must have passed the rabbit on our way too and fro to the main buildings this morning. In such circumstances we routinely make gassho and say the three Refuges of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for the creatures benefit. It’ll be the most blessed rabbit in the valley! As with the foot and mouth outbreak back in 2001 we can’t do funerals for each animal, however we can offer something for the ones we see and keep the big picture in mind as well.
Each time I passed the scene there were thoughts of frustration; thoughts of helplessness in the face of its inevitable demise, there were the feelings of uncomfortableness looking at the raw reality of it all. And also there was the background wanting to DO something. But there isn’t anything that can be done, the virus keeps on emerging. One could think, well it keeps the rabbit population down, which is true.
So, things/circumstances hardly ever come up smelling like roses, from every angle.