Becoming Real: 40 Days with the Velveteen Rabbit
Day 7 – Wednesday after First Sunday of Lent – 24th February2010
“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. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often 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 your 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.”
from The Velveteen Rabbit
by Margery Williams
It is the prerogative of those who are among the ranks of the balding, creaky- jointed or just plain shabby to proclaim loudly that ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!’
But the wisdom of the Skin Horse is not simply about ageing. Toys do not become ‘real’ simply because they have become old. To become Real is to be able to give yourself to the love of another. It is to run the risk of being broken a little, to have your sharp edges worn down, to decide to not to have to be ‘carefully kept’.
To become real is to hand yourself over to the care and attention of another. To let the one who touches you transform you. This will probably hurt (as the skin horse said yesterday) but that is never because our Divine Lover intends to hurt.
Being touched and transformed by God’s love comes at least at the price of letting go of other loves. A difficult task as the things we cherish most may be those self-loves (the origin of so many of my personal sharp edges!) which prevent us from being close to anybody at all.
One of the prayers the Church of England uses in Lent reminds me that we keep this season so that God may:
Open our eyes to your presence in the world
and free our hands to welcome others
into the radiant splendour of your love.
And it is as we open our hands to help others that God is able to welcome us into his own loving arms and lead us on the journey to becoming ‘Real’.
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me
Ignatius of Loyola
© Andrew Dotchin – 2018