Becoming Real: 40 Days with the Velveteen Rabbit
Day 5 – Monday after First Sunday of Lent – 22nd February2010
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. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.
from The Velveteen Rabbit
by Margery Williams
I know less about the plays of William Shakespeare than I would like to (and probably cannot even name more than half of them) but there are a few lines of his writing which have lived with me for many years. One is some of the words from the Fool to King Lear of whom he accuses; ‘Thou shouldst not have been old before thou hadst been wise.’
Wisdom is something which is often in short supply and comes mostly from years of experience of the common round of life. Wisdom refuses to grow whenever we refuse to learn the lessons of life. It is all too easy to presume that things will be the same today as they were yesterday and will continue to be so tomorrow. The mainspring will never break, the ‘stick-out handle’ will always be there to push us along but then life intervenes and our plans lie in tatters. If we do not learn that things change and life affects us then we will never grow wise. We will forever remain toys and the magic of the nursery will not be able to work upon us.
It would be a terrible thing if any of us, like King Lear were to ‘became old before we became wise’ for this would mean that, like the brash boast-filled mechanical toys of the nursery, we would never become anything else and spend our lives being ‘only toys’.
Lent is a journey which should meet us in a new way every time. It should not be the same experience year after year, else we will not grow. And if we do not grow we remain stuck in a cycle of foolishness and ignorance. Much better to reflect on the fact, which our hearts have always known, that we ARE more than just toys and God wants to work ‘nursery magic’ in our lives during this holy time.
Lent is all about preparation – let’s remember to prepare ourselves for the possibility of change and the wisdom which grows with it. And in so doing be transformed by the ‘magic’ of the love of God.
Father of light,
in You is found no shadow of change
but only the fullness of life and limitless truth.
Open our hearts to the voice of Your Word
and free us from the original darkness that shadows our vision.
Restore our sight that we may look upon Your Son
who calls us to repentance and a change of heart,
for he lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
© Andrew Dotchin – 2018