Skip to content

The Ethics of Naming Rabbits

August 13, 2022

Reverend Bonnie had a mad idea. She wanted a bunny garden at our church and she would not be dissuaded.

I said to our church Board President “A bunny garden? Really?”

He said “I don’t know either, but she does so much and it makes her happy, so I’m all for it.”

Plans were made, a corner of the garden was cleared, a structure was built, and the church went through an almost ridiculously rigorous adoption process to secure two spayed and neutered bunnies. We had our bunny garden.

Now the bunnies needed names. Bonnie said that the congregation should choose the names and a friend and I were put in charge of the process. We had fun with it, making an announcement in church on Sunday asking for prospective sets of names, one for the male bunny and one for the female. We ended up with a stack of index cards bearing suggestions (Mickie and Minnie, Petal and Blossom, etc.), which we narrowed down to five possibilities. People voted on their choice among the five.

We came up with a statistically unlikely event: a three-way tie.

I sent Reverend Bonnie an email asking her to break the tie, since the whole bunny thing was her idea in the first place.

She called me the next day. “I know this doesn’t seem like a big deal, but I told the congregation they would choose the name, so I don’t feel right choosing the name. We need to have a run-off.”

So with much laughter, we had a runoff election and chose the winning names, which were based on writers important to our denomination: Waldo and Emma, for Ralph Waldo Emerson and Emma Curtis Hopkins.

This tiny matter of naming bunnies gave me even more respect for my beloved Rev. Bonnie. Her integrity prevented her from fudging even on this little thing, that’s how important it is to her to stay true to her word. Now when I confront an event where I have to make a difficult ethical or moral decision, I think about telling Reverend Bonnie about my choice and imagine her reaction. This is true leadership – she has impressed me so much over the years that she is my touchstone even as I live thousands of miles from her.

And what did the bunny garden mean to the church? Well, people started going behind the building more to visit the bunnies. They noticed that the garden area needed improvement, so they put in a lawn and benches and flowers, beautifying the back of the church and making it a place people hang out. The bunnies needed food, so an amazing congregant put in a vegetable garden on the church property. There were more vegetables than the bunnies could eat, so extras were distributed to people who needed them. And everyone loves visiting the bunnies.

We talk a lot at church (now via Zoom) about kindness – Bonnie calls the church “the kindness cathedral” and the ripples being kind produces. Our silly bunnies produced ripples far beyond the original idea. Reverend Bonnie’s wild notion made big changes happen and brought people together. Not so crazy after all.

Image by Rebekka D from Pixabay

  1. Carolyn Stephens permalink
    August 13, 2022 09:00

    What a great story! My favorite part is not the bunny naming, but the fact that the bunny garden led to so many other nice things. As Reverend Bonnie no doubt knew it would.

    • August 13, 2022 21:19

      Yes, ripples of kindness. She knows.

  2. Robin permalink
    August 13, 2022 10:57

    Have you been back down to Ventura recently?
    Do you remember the “bunny garden“ we had at Anna‘s house? 😁🐰

    • August 13, 2022 21:18

      I haven’t been to Ventura for more than 2 years! Life is weird. I do remember our ill-fated backyard bunnies and how confused Antonio was by them – he kinda wanted to chase them, but he also knew they could kick his ass.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: