Becoming Real: 40 Days with the Velveteen Rabbit
Day 25 – Wednesday after Mothering Sunday – 17th March 2010
For a long time he lay very still, watching the bracken, and hoping that they would come back. But they never returned, and presently the sun sank lower and the little white moths fluttered out, and the Boy came and carried him home.
from The Velveteen Rabbit
by Margery Williams
‘Home’ what a wonderful word! And the boy arrives just in time to rescue our rabbit from the melancholy of loneliness and the temptation to wander into the ways of the wild rabbits.
I have always had a strange relationship with the word ‘home’. Gone are the days when a Vicar would stay in one living for decades at a time – or even a whole career. When our eldest son was five he moved into his fifth home with the words, ‘I like this house, I hope God gives us a nice year here’! Sometimes I have rephrased the words of the faithful Jew at the Passover to read ‘A wandering Anglican Priest was my father….’ (cf Deuteronomy 26 v.5).
Each of us needs a place to call ‘home’. Somewhere which anchors our faith and around which we can ride out the storms of life. A place where we can lick our wounds and be reminded that God loves us perfectly. We need time to stop and learn again that, despite all the challenges of life – having no hind legs, looking a little shabby and being unable to ‘fit in’ with everyone else – we are still lovely in God’s eyes.
Though having lived in many places in my life I have been blessed to have had three true ‘homes’. As a child at High School it was Leiston Abbey on the Suffolk coast there I first learnt the value of holy silence and reflection. In the early years of ministry it was St Benedict’s House in Johannesburg where the nuns of Whitby taught me to find a rhythm to the life of prayer. Today it is the privilege of an annual pilgrimage to the caring community at Marygate House on Holy Island. There I have found a place where there is nowhere to hide from God’s love and I have no excuse for neglecting God’s claim on my life.
I have, sadly, also known the pain which comes with not returning home. I have been wracked by the despair which comes with the ‘stiff upper-lip’ approach to the Christian life. I have found it easy to imagine that I can stay a little longer in the bracken and somehow do not need to come home yet. When this happens I kid myself that I am being faithful – but this is nothing more than pride based on an imagined self-sufficiency and a false sense self-importance. I have also seen, with great sadness, colleagues lose their way in their offering of service and end up lost in the bracken of this world.
Those who know me even a little will think this is a case of the ‘pot calling the kettle black’ – I struggle daily with finding a balance to my life. Perhaps we should be more in the habit of ‘calling’ each other? Not names between pots and kettles (that has only led me to the further self-justification of bad habits). Instead let us be bold in the habit of calling each other to ‘come home’. For only when we have spent time in the arms of God will we be able to go and live faithful lives amongst the bracken and wild rabbits which this world brings to us.
Loving God of forgiveness,
I come before you humbled and sad
in the face of my own repeated failings.
I hold out my hands as a petitioner would,asking for mercy.
It is then that I feel you reach out
and take my handin your loving grasp.
Thank you for the love you pour out on me so lavishly.
Help me to follow more closely
in the path you have set for me,
the path of your Son.
© Andrew Dotchin – 2018