Wednesday, July 29, 2009
The Velveteen Rabbit
Children's stories sometimes speak to adults at a deeper level, very much like the parables of Jesus.
That comic strip reminded me of the wealth of truth found in the children's classic "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams.
The story begins like this:
"There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning he was really splendid. He was fat and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; his coat was spotted brown and white, he had real thread whiskers, and his ears were lined with pink sateen. On Christmas morning, when he sat wedged in the top of the Boy's stocking, with a spring of holly between his paws, the effect was charming.
The boy loved the rabbit for at least two hours, before relegating him to the toy cupboard where he was snubbed by the more expensive and mechanical toys, the latter of which thought that they were real.
Then one day he found out a secret while talking to the Skin Horse.
"The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else...
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become real. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
We live in a world of phonies and we are all phonies to some degree. One of the blessings of life is becoming real and knowing that people actually like the real you.
But we can only drop our masks and become realies with people who love us, accept us for what we are - uglies and all - and yet, care enough to nurture us to be all the best that we can be.
The latter part is very important because there is no point being a real but horrible person. We should aspire to be real and good.
That is why becoming real and good takes time and once it happens it doesn't matter what other people think of you.
When we come to God we are assured of His love, nurturance and patience with us. That's why we can all be like the Velveteen Rabbit who eventually became real. It takes time but God makes all things, including you and me, beautiful in His time and in His sight.
Let us let God do His work in us so we have more realies around.
Click here to read the rest of this delightful tale. Enjoy!