Becoming Real: 40 Days with the Velveteen Rabbit
Day 6 – Tuesday after First Sunday of Lent – 23rd February2010
“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.”
from The Velveteen Rabbit
by Margery Williams
In a modern world when more and more of what we do occurs in a Virtual Environment the question ‘What is Real?’ becomes urgent.
We live in a time where we are aware of many different worldviews and experiences. A time where there seem to no longer be any moral absolutes and everything is relative. If this is true of the daily world in which we live and move how much more so is it in the worlds of Virtual Reality in which much of many people’s time is spent.
Things no longer mean the same thing for everyone. The ‘sauce for the goose’ is no longer ‘the sauce for the gander’. We have learnt to assign our own meaning to events and no longer determine the veracity of situations on the basis of scientific experiment or the experience of others. Instead we must plough our own furrow and rely on personal belief and emotion to find a coherent reality.
This is at the same time liberating and frightening. We are liberated because we are not constricted by the worlds of the past and can grow as a human race in new and exciting ways. It is also frightening. Leaving us without roots and makes us to be a people with no place to call home. We are all pilgrims in cyber-space where everyone is giving directions to many varied destinations and calling each of them ‘home’.
So how do we find a reality that is not virtual but concrete? Who will show us the way home when the signposts all point in different directions?
For the toys in the nursery it is the touch of a human owner which ushers them out of the world of play and into the Real World. So too for us. Norman Auton (a chaplain for those with issues in Mental Health) many years ago wrote a book simply called ‘Touch’. In the book he explored the ministry of Jesus as the one who comes amongst us and simply ‘touches’. Auton notes that many of Jesus’ miracles were performed simply ‘with a touch’. No words, no profession of faith, no theology; just a touch.
Jesus stands in front of us – good or bad, faithful or not – and touches us – and in so doing calls us to an eternal reality and shows us the way home.
Find the time and space to let God touch you today.
You have taught us to overcome our sins
by prayer, fasting, and works of mercy.
When we are discouraged by our weakness,
give us confidence in Your love.
We ask this through Our Lord Jesus Christ Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with Your and the Holy Spirit
One God, for ever and ever.
© Andrew Dotchin – 2018