During a recent party game called choices I was asked, would you rather head down the rabbit hole with Alice, or go to the ball with Cinderella?
Well I must admit that I would take the rabbit hole every time, as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland as described by Lewis Carroll is very much a favourite story within our household. It is hard to say which part of this bizarre tale with its eccentric characters is most enjoyable; the Queen of Hearts game of croquet, the Cheshire Cats disappearing form, the White Rabbit’s tardy haste? I must admit however to a strong preference for a particular part of the story; the maddest of tea parties, with the maddest of hosts – the Mad Hatter and the equally mad, March Hare.
The phrase “as mad as a March hare” existed before Carroll’s time of course being a reference to the supposed unpredictable antics of male hares during this month we find ourselves in; with behaviour such as boxing or jumping on the spot for no apparent reason being common. But as it turns out this behaviour is anything but mad really, as like the rest of the natural world it is all about the fact that spring marks the beginning of the breeding season (I guess the males are trying to impress potential mates with these antics!) But certainly whether in this slightly strange manner or not all around us as February turns to March most of us I am sure, are beginning to seeing indications of new life – buds on the trees, snowdrops and Daffodils in the borders and birds chirruping more loudly and vigorously day by day to name but a few signs.
This year March also sees the greatest festival in the Christian calendar being celebrated, namely Easter; and that this is all about new life is clear from our desire to celebrate it with signs of this; all those chocolate eggs, chicks and bunnies. Of course the new life that marks Easter out most clearly though is that associated with Jesus. His new life that occurred following His death and then resurrection offering us the new life that is eternal life won for us by this event.
Does this have anything to do with “mad” March hares and their seemingly foolish antics in real life, or in the imagination of Lewis Carroll you may well wonder? Well as it happens foolishness is certainly something attached to the events of Easter by people around the time that they occurred. For as St Paul says in his first letter to the church in Corinth “the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God”. And as we look at our world with all of its conflicts and suffering and pain, a message of love for God and for neighbour may well seem to be the thing of silly fantasies to many.
But at this time of Easter what could be saner than taking Christ’s death and resurrection as our sign to do something with this new life? What could be less foolish for us than embracing the foolishness of the cross and trying to celebrate our new life by showing this new life to all around us? We may seem as “mad as a march hare” to many as we do so, but this is surely the least we can do knowing that Jesus came to Earth, died and rose again exactly for this new life to be the new life of the whole world.