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My Rabbit Teacher

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

Photo: Greg Reese

The Teacher Rabbit

“The quieter you become, the more you are able to hear.”


There’s a little hole at the bottom of the fence in my backyard. “Doncha wanna fix that?” a visiting friend asked.

Nope! It’s opened a whole new magical world.

A small, wild rabbit has come to train me. He is gray and very shy, and his ears are almost as big as he is. But don’t underestimate his power! He has gotten me to tenderly save my celery scraps and baby carrots and dutifully bring them to the hole between our worlds every morning.

For the first month, I had to be behind the sliding glass door for him to come to my side of the fence. Then if I were very still, he would venture out. If I even moved my eyes, he’d dart away. If my thoughts were too noisy, he’d wait till I left my rocking chair. But he taught me to let the flurry of the world go, and sit very still.

Now I can sit outside, and he will come halfway through the fence. I smile softly. I can barely see his eyes and his nose, and he will nibble, nibble, nibble. His mouth moving so, so quickly. Watching me the whole time. And together, we share something peaceful. Just the sound of his munching and crunching softens the fear and uncertainty of the world’s harsh reality.

This little rabbit has shown me how much more I can hear when I am silent – how a peaceful mind will lead me to strategic choices. Big problems are best solved from this powerful place of peace. And I love him for showing me that. How lucky I am to have a hole just big enough for a little rabbit to watch me. He is teaching me about the mysterious power of silence.

Now when I have Big Noisy Questions, I don’t talk. I listen. Because in silence, all answers can be heard.

Thank you, Teacher Rabbit!


The Human-Animal Connection is now an audio book

And here is a poem attributed to St. John of the Cross

A Rabbit Noticed My Condition

I was sad one day and went for a walk;

I sat in a field.

A rabbit noticed my condition and

came near.

It often does not take more than that to help at times -

to just be close to creatures who

are so full of knowing,

so full of love

that they don’t chat,

they just gaze with

their marvelous understanding.


Here is another inspiring poem by Laura Crafton Gilpin called Life After Death

Laura Crafton Gilpin was a nurse, poet, and advocate for hospital reform. In 1976, she was given the Walt Whitman Award by the Academy of American Poets for her poetry book, "The Hocus-Pocus of the Universe." She was a founding member of Planetree, an organization dedicated to advancing patient-centered care. What follows is an excerpt from her powerful poem, "Life After Death."

Life After Death IV

The things I know: how the living go on living and how the dead go on living with them

So that in a forest even a dead tree casts a shadow and the leaves fall one by one and the branches break in the wind and the bark peels off slowly and the trunk cracks and the rain seeps in through the cracks and the trunk falls to the ground and the moss covers it

and in the spring the rabbits find it and build their nest inside and have their young and their young will live safely inside the dead tree

So that nothing is wasted in nature or in love.

Genie Joseph, PhD, is the creator of The Human-Animal Connection Training Program that believes that honoring Animal Wisdom makes us better humans.

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