Uplifting Tale: Boy and His Bunny Raise God's Attention

It happened just this way.

And if you sat in 12-year-old Jimmy Hoppe's living room in Garden Grove and listened to him and his cousin, Dylan Watkins, tell the story, you'd know it's true.

Before Jimmy gets to the details, however, a little background.

Last Easter, Jimmy, now a sixth-grader at Sunnyside Elementary School, got a pet bunny rabbit he named Thumper. About two weeks ago, Thumper started showing signs of being sick. Because two of his sister's pet bunnies had shown similar symptoms and soon died, Jimmy's dad took Jimmy aside and told him Thumper might not survive.

Jimmy picks up the story from there.

"When Dad said he might die, I sat outside with him and was talking to him and fed him a whole entire carrot, which takes about a half an hour. When I was out there, it gave me time to think about it and what I was going to do.

"My rabbit really seemed sick and Dad thought it was going to die because it was really skinny. I was feeling really sad because I didn't want my rabbit to die, because his birthday was coming up. So, I wrote the letter, hoping I could fly it on my kite."

The letter was a simple entreaty to God. The Hoppes are a strongly religious family, and Jimmy has been brought up to believe that God hears all prayers. On the wings of a kite, Jimmy thought, the letter might have a better chance of catching God's attention.

Taking a sheet of notebook paper and crying as he wrote, Jimmy jotted this note: "Please let my rabbit live because I love him. I pray that you heal him. In Jesus' name, Amen."

Jimmy picks up the story: "I was going to spend the night at Dylan's, and the day before that was National Kite Flying Day, and it kind of made me think of flying my kite and sending the message to God, because it would make me feel better. So I went over to his house (a week ago Saturday), but we couldn't fly that day because there was no one to take us to the park.

"We came back to my house the next day and went to the park. There wasn't no wind at all, but I really wanted to try and fly it, still. We tried getting the kite up a couple times, but it wouldn't get up. We tried three or four times but it wouldn't go up. We sat down and relaxed for a while, then I said I was going to try one more time, and I tried it and right out of nowhere this big wind blew the thing up and took the kite way up."

Dylan, 10, interjects: "It was amazing!"

"The string kept running out," Jimmy says. "The kite was going up really high. The string on mine was all run out. My cousin was trying to get his kite up, but we couldn't. And so, my mom got his kite in the air and it overlapped over my kite and it got stuck and it cut the string. So we had the extra string. His broke and the string on mine was all run out and we tied them together and mine went up even higher.

"When there wasn't no more string, about 800 feet worth, almost, and while it was up in the air, out of nowhere, Dylan noticed this bright light. It was like a star out in mid-daylight."

Jimmy's mother, Margaret, jumps into the conversation: "Dylan said, 'Look in the sky!' I looked up and it looked like a regular star in the daylight, like a clear white light in the sky. We were looking up there and all of a sudden, the light kind of disappeared."

"It faded," Jimmy says. "Then out of nowhere, I don't know where the bird came from, there was a white bird and it started circling the kite. It was really weird, it was just circling around, and then it dove and pecked at it."

Margaret Hoppe says birds have never pecked at the boys' kites before.

"After the bird left," Jimmy says, "the wind died down and the kite came down and everything went back to normal."

Jimmy's parents have let the boys put their own interpretation on events. Jimmy says he probably would have been able to accept Thumper's death, but that after coming home from the park, he was sure the bunny wasn't going to die.

That was last Sunday. The next day, according to Jimmy's father, Jim, Thumper started eating again.

"The rabbit was definitely going to die," Jim Hoppe says. "That's what I told my son."

Jimmy and Dylan aren't sure what the light was, but the bird's presence is clear. "He was coming down to get the message," Jimmy says.

Jimmy and Dylan told their friends at school about the miracle wind that gave flight to the kite, about the light, about the bird. They show the pecked holes in the kite as proudly as if it were God's signature.

"I know God can always hear my messages," Jimmy says, "but flying it on the kite made Him hear it a little bit louder."

You think it didn't happen just that way?

Try telling that to Jimmy or Dylan.

Or, try telling it to Thumper, who sat in his cage looking quite pleased as Jimmy spun the tale of what happened last Sunday afternoon in the park.

Dana Parsons' column appears Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Readers may reach Parsons by writing to him at The Times Orange County Edition, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626, or calling (714) 966-7821.

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