bunnies, image by Alexa, on Pixabay
The Road to Coincidence: From a Bishop’s Sermon to Homeless Rabbits
The bishop’s words lingered around me as bright and shining as the early June day.
I walked out of church illuminated not only by the sun but also by Christ’s presence,
made vivid through the sermon.
His words spoke of forgiveness and hope, emphasizing that how we react to life, whether
with anger or love, is a conscious choice. I left the service inspired, wanting to be a channel for God’s love.
Christ strolled beside me as that Sunday continued to unfold, and I thought about the two
disciples on the road to Emmaus, joined by a stranger. I promised to keep my eyes always
open to Christ, constantly aware of his company.
Within a few days, though, I blundered into two coincidences, and my resolve was tested.
I failed spectacularly.
I waited in line at the grocery store. Ahead of me, items bulged from shoppers’ carts, and
the cashier at the only aisle open looked weary. I flagged down a store employee as she
passed by and asked her if it would be possible to open another aisle.
She appeared rushed and told me that the store was short staffed. I became impatient as I
noticed two other employees in conversation, appearing to be minimally occupied. Pointing
this out, I repeated my request.
My tone, I’m sure, was not sweet and soothing but rather demanding and bossy. The
woman said that she would consult with her manager. She soon returned and opened another aisle. But even before she came back, I regretted my impatient words and pulling her away from her tasks. I later apologized, and she shrugged away my apology with a
It was then that I noticed her name tag. It gave only her first name and first initial of her last
name. It was the same as a friend’s daughter who was interested in traveling through
my home state and wanted to speak with me about it. I had forgotten that she worked at
I had heard the bishop’s uplifting words only a few days prior, and I couldn’t even manage to behave thoughtfully and kindly for a week. It would be a painful consequence if I actually met the daughter, and she recognized me as the complaining curmudgeon from her store.
Later that same afternoon, while at the gas station, I noticed a couple, somewhere in their 20s, removing suitcases, crates, plastic bags, a leashed dog, and two rabbits in a hutch from their car. Their belongings mushroomed around them.
The man approached me and asked if I knew anyone who would like two bunnies. He was pleasant, but his dress and demeanor drooped as if dragged down not only by the humid day but also by invisible burdens.
And here’s the crazy thing: I actually knew about a rabbit rescue shelter two hours north
of where we stood. I had stumbled upon this information while researching dog shelters.
One website had led to another, and suddenly I was looking at rabbits who needed homes.
I told him about the rabbit rescue. The woman and man conferred. There was an air of helplessness about them, from the man’s speech pattern to their possible homelessness
to the possessions crammed into the compact car. The man thanked me and, as I drove away, the couple was rummaging through their gear, while the rabbits snuggled in their hutch.
How strange that I had crossed paths with these two people. Who else at that gas station
would have known about a rabbit shelter? I hoped they were capable of getting the rabbits there.
“I’ll take the bunnies,” I should have said, and driven the rabbits myself—after filling the
couple’s car with fuel and buying them a meal. It wouldn’t have fixed everything in their lives but, at that moment, it might have made their day easier, the burden of caring for the rabbits
one less thing to worry about.
Stepping out of our self-imposed boundaries and really doing the unexpected is extremely
difficult. But it’s what Christ wants of us. Again, I had been tested and failed.
I’m sure I’ll face many more tests, as we all do. Hopefully, sometimes I’ll get it right, reacting serenely to opposition or adversity and ignoring my plans in order to help someone else. And when I fail, Christ forgives me. He knows I desire truly to walk with Him, as the disciples did on the road to Emmaus.
Scripture reference: Luke 24:13-32
Erin Fanning splits her time between the mountains of central Idaho and the lakes
and woods of northern Michigan. When not reading or writing, she can be found skiing, snowshoeing, biking, or kayaking, depending upon the season. She shares her biking and kayaking adventures at michiganbiyaking.com and is the author of numerous short stories, articles, and essays. For more information
about her writing, visit erinfanning.com.
(December 2023 issue)