One of the things I love most about living in LA is that there are so many odd, niche things going on. Last Thanksgiving, I went to the Bunny Museum in Pasadena. There’s a chandelier tree in someone’s front yard, and an abandoned zoo, and a cemetery that regularly hosts movie nights.
Yesterday, my exploits included the original LA flower market and some fantastic Japanese photo booths in Little Tokyo. It was a montage-worthy Saturday in LA.
But perhaps the most memorable portion of the day was our conversation with a shopkeeper. Within 10 seconds of entering the child-geared Japanese novelty store, a woman behind the counter called out to us, “been to the flower market?”
You might be thinking how perceptive she was to know we’d been to the flower market. In actuality, our obnoxious flower purchases would have been difficult to miss. As we maneuvered the narrow aisles, Chelsea struggled to balance a giant, floppy, and precarious white orchid while I wielded a mass of sunflowers encircled by newspaper. Two more conspicuous flower children have yet to be seen on the streets of Little Tokyo.
We walked closer to her counter and began chatting. At the risk of sounding ignorant, I must admit that I was a bit confused about how this woman had come to own a store of this particular ilk. She seemed like a stereotypical “basic” soccer mom—her little 8-year-old son was even sitting in a folding chair in the corner—not like the type of woman who passionately pedals Spirited Away posters in the heart of Little Tokyo.
Our conversation eventually turned to a discussion of her store hours: she was thinking about opening earlier, maybe in a few months, once life was a little easier to manage. This is when things got weird…
“With being a mom, I take him to school at 8, and then I go back home and clean and do all the things I need to do…and then I come open the shop. It’s my time to get stuff done.”
…ok, pretty normal sounding.
“I have to clean up after the rabbits. They make such a mess.”
…I appreciated her commitment to keeping the rabbits hygienic.
“I have a lot of rabbits in the house, and they just take a lot of work. Hopefully, we will move soon and things will be easier.”
She went on to tell us about how she had inside AND outside rabbits. She had never intended to have inside rabbits, but it had just happened that way. And, apparently, when you take rabbits out of a group, the whole social hierarchy changes dramatically. So now she was raising two separate colonies of rabbits, and it was taking up too much of her time. “It’s even keeping me from my goal, which was to spend time outside with my rabbits.”
I asked how many rabbits she had, in total. Sheepishly, she began, “Well, ten outside. And…it sounds crazy…” “We have ten inside too,” chimed in the eight-year-old, a hint of judgment in his voice. He seemed like he needed to vent. She tried to explain the predicament away, telling us how one of the rabbits had escaped, and been returned two days later, knocked up.
Here was this totally normal-seeming woman, standing before us, secretly the master of upwards of twenty rabbits. Or, rather, it seemed, subservient captive of twenty rabbits.
I don’t know if you know this about me, but I HATE swarms. Many years ago, someone showed me a video from Okunoshima (bunny island), and it scarred me for life. Even a swarm of bunnies is still a swarm.
New customers finally entered, and as we snuck out of her shop, Chelsea observed, “yeah, but even before that one bunny had babies, she already had over TEN.”
I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Pasadena Bunny Museum. Candace and Steve started giving each other bunny-themed “love tokens” and just never stopped. Now their house is full to bursting with bunnies and bunny memorabilia, and they actually have to move to a larger house to accommodate all their bunny “collection.” Apparently rabbit swag breeds like rabbits.
I think sin breeds like rabbits, too. It can start out seemingly manageable—we keep it on the outskirts of our lives, maybe in the backyard. It doesn’t make a huge mess, doesn’t require much from us. Maybe it’s even easier than the alternative. But pretty soon our outside sin can become our inside sin, and our sin can become so big it keeps us from the original reason we wanted to sin in the first place. The sin can take over and keep us from opening the store when we want or living life how we should. There’s no more room to even walk around the house because something that was supposed to be small and fun now literally takes up every spare moment and all of our brain space and living room.
Eventually, we look up and realize that things have gotten “out of hand”—and we don’t even know how we got to that place. We avoid admitting the extent of it to others because now it suddenly seems crazy—but honestly, we shouldn’t have been looking to bunnies for our fulfillment to begin with.
Living with Christ doesn’t leave room to raise pet sins. Pet sins take up space in our lives that should belong to God. I think sometimes it can be easy to minimize certain sin when it feels like we control it, or when we really like it—like “white” lies, gossip, or love of money—but even a bunny swarm is a swarm, and even a pet sin is a problem. God hates sin—all sin—as much as I hate swarms—all swarms.
Equally, it can be easy to be shocked by “big” sins—just like most people can understand the ridiculousness of owning twenty bunnies. But “big” sins grow from small ones, and we do everyone a disservice when we ignore calling out small sins until they’ve grown into full grown multi-bunny-colony outbreaks. Maybe if we dealt with our ten-bunny problems sooner, we wouldn’t get to the place of having twenty on our hands.