Becoming Real: 40 Days with the Velveteen Rabbit
Day 30 – Tuesday after Passion Sunday – 23rd March2010
“Hurrah!” thought the little Rabbit. “To-morrow we shall go to the seaside!” For the boy had often talked of the seaside, and he wanted very much to see the big waves coming in, and the tiny crabs, and the sand castles.
Just then Nana caught sight of him.
“How about his old Bunny?” she asked.
“That?” said the doctor. “Why, it’s a mass of scarlet fever germs! Burn it at once. What? Nonsense! Get him a new one. He mustn’t have that any more!”
from The Velveteen Rabbit
by Margery Williams
When I lived in Johannesburg I always smiled when I went past a second-hand furniture shop which proudly proclaimed that it sold “Antiques: Old & New”.
Looking inside the shop it soon became obvious that the ‘old’ stock was definitely not made in any classic style and the ‘new’ stock – mostly made from cheap pine and MDF – could hardly be described as antique.
Then we find Nursery Nana having the temerity to refer to our Velveteen friend as ‘old’, and in so doing brings out all the prejudice society reserves for the well worn. The doctor on the other hand invests value in a ‘New’ rabbit for the boy, proclaiming that this one will be disease free, but will that make it ‘real’?
We would do well to remember the cautionary wisdom of the Skin Horse that some people will simply ‘not understand’ what it means to be ‘real’ and will not be able to see our true value. It is always tempting try to measure value in external things. An object (or a person even) must be valuable because it is bright and shiny and new, classically styled and enduring, fit for purpose, disease free…. The list goes on.
It is more difficult to see that things are valuable simply because they are loved. Julian of Norwich was reminded in her ‘Revelations’.
And in this the Lord showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand . . .In this little thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it, the second is that God loves it, the third is that God preserves it.
(Julian of Norwich)
We do not have to be bright and shiny and new. We do not have to be certified disease free and made of non-allergenic materials. All we do need to know is that we are loved. And not only loved by God but made by God and preserved by God as well.
It is so easy to throw out the old in favour of the new and the shiny. We can rush to pick up the latest trend in popular spirituality or insist on the newest of ‘Fresh Expressions’ in worship. It is also easy to only value the experiences we are used to. Refusing to look at any new thing God is doing we may always expect God to speak in ways with which we are familiar, and, if we do this for long enough, end up only hearing our own voice.
What should we do to find true value in things which are either ‘ancient or modern? Our Master had these words to say about the importance of seeking true treasure;
And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’ (Matthew 13.52)
Each of us on the journey to becoming real should refuse to allow fellow pilgrims to be thrust into ‘old’ or ‘new’ pigeonholes instead we should seek simply to embrace each other knowing that everyone is made, loved and kept by our Maker, Redeemer and Friend.
I know in your great love for me,
you see the deep sorrow in my heart.
Hear my prayers which are offered
with such trust in you.
Be with me in both mind and heart
as I renew my life in your spirit.
© Andrew Dotchin – 2018