Mad As a March Hare
Being spontaneous and imaginative
by Brian Radcliffe
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To encourage us to consider the opportunities open to us (SEAL theme: Self-awareness).
Preparation and materials
All of us know what a rabbit looks like. Many of us probably keep a rabbit as a pet. However, we are less familiar with the hare.
Show the images of the hare and the rabbit.
A hare looks very similar to a rabbit, but with longer legs. However, at this time of year, the hare begins to act in a most distinctive way. During the breeding season, which begins in early spring and may last for a few months, hares can be seen jumping vertically, just as if they’re on a pogo stick. They also appear to box one another, standing on their hind legs and beating each other with their paws. Scientists believe that the male hares jump to show off their vitality and suitability while the females box to fend off unwanted males. For both sexes, it’s a style of behaviour that’s entirely out of character, except in the breeding season. Normally, both male and female hares would run for cover rather than draw attention to themselves.
There are times when all of us act out of character. Sometimes, such as when we are under a lot of stress, we may react in a negative way, becoming moody or withdrawn. However, I wonder if any of us act out of character in a spontaneous and imaginative way, breaking out of our routines and the expectations placed on us. Do we ever surprise those around us by doing something unexpected?
March marks the start of spring in the northern hemisphere, the season when nature begins to throw off the limitations of winter and gets ready for the enjoyment of summer. March is the month when we begin to look ahead, to make plans, to do something different. Some of us may want to try a new activity, particularly one that entails going outdoors as the weather improves. Maybe we want to push ourselves a little to see what we might be capable of. Others may decide that it’s time to expand their friendship group, to get out of the rut of doing the same things with the same people all the time. New friends help us to see the world from a different perspective.
Some of us may want to undergo a makeover, changing our image and giving expression to our personality. Others may set targets to be achieved before autumn arrives. Whatever our choice may be, let’s use our imaginations. Let’s try something different, just like the March hare.
It can be easy to settle into a routine, continuing with the tried-and-tested formula by which we live our lives. Often, this is because continuing in the same way requires little effort. We feel safe and secure when we remain the same. Other people expect us to act in a certain way and we may not want to draw attention to ourselves by acting differently. We prefer to remain undercover, like the hare for most of the year. Sometimes, though, it’s good to expand our horizons.
One of the key messages that Christians believe is that people can always have a new start in life. Jesus talked about seeds bursting into huge trees, of dry land flowing with fresh water, even of death becoming life again. The Bible is full of stories about Jesus meeting people who have little to look forward to in their life and opening up a new set of possibilities. People who cannot walk are sent away running and leaping. Blind people see the world for the first time and describe it in a new, wondrous way. Deaf people hear voices for the first time. The outcasts in society are given a brand new reason for living, totally beyond their wildest dreams. Even dead people are restored to life. In fact, those who witnessed Jesus’ miracles were so surprised at what they saw happening that they sometimes thought that these men and women were mad, just like the March hare!
Time for reflection
How about us? What are our wildest dreams? What do we long to be? What changes do we long for in our lives?
Let’s not limit ourselves by what others tell us, or by the fear of their reactions. At the beginning of springtime, maybe we need to learn from the March hare and do something a bit different!
Thank you for the obvious choices that we see in front of us.
Remind us of the many other possibilities, too.
Grant us the courage to be spontaneous and imaginative.
Help us to be willing to try new things and to make the most of every opportunity as we move through our lives.