From "The Velveteen Rabbit" by Marjory Williams
"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."
"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 all loose in the 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." (Velveteen Rabbit)
The Boy showered so much love on the Velveteen Rabbit that he had become shabby and was losing his beauty. He had even felt so much love in his sawdust heart that it almost burst. Seasons passed. A look of wisdom and beauty had come into his eyes, that even the Nanny noticed it: "I declare if that old bunny hasn't got quite a knowing expression." As The Boy lay sick with Scarlet Fever, the Velveteen Rabbit had whispered all sorts of wonderful planned adventures in his ear, for he knew he was needed.
He had to endure the rejection of being thrown out with the rubbish, and he had cried a tear, a Real tear. This activated the heart of the Nursery magic fairy, who takes care of all the playthings that the children have loved. "When they are old and worn out and the children don't need them anymore, then I come and take them away with me and turn them into Real." She gathered him up in her arms and kissed him on his velveteen nose that was all damp from crying. He was changed, changed altogether. He had received Real hind legs, and long whiskers. He had become a Real Rabbit. What's more, The Boy recognised him.
Can we like the Rabbit, patiently allow the changes of Life to come about? He had endured his owner's sickness, anxiety, ridicule from other Rabbits, excitement, fun, laughter, deep love and friendship, danger, loneliness, rejection, and heart-break. He had shown kindness, love and humility.
Can we let Life happen to us, knowing those wrinkles and scars are all excellent signs that we are becoming our true nature? How can we allow ourselves to be transformed and made Real by the seasons of Life? Can we celebrate the joys, the fun, the summer? Can we cry our tears in winter? Contemplation asks us to sit with how we are through the seasons of Life, to allow the rhythm of Life to play out, to experience the moments knowing that they too will pass. It asks us to anchor ourselves in the reality of Life itself, to summon the patience and courage to endure Life's trials, and to humbly surrender to divine providence.
In time, internal recognition of our true nature builds and solidifies. We know it and recognise it like we've always known it. Contemplation builds certainty that this nature is inherently good, natural and how Nature intended. We also recognise the hand of God intervening in our circumstances. We develop discipline, self-knowledge. We notice patterns, we endeavour to improve. These are all good-intentioned actions. Contemplation, however, requires only a surrendering heart.
As the Rabbit's friend, the Skin Horse assured him:
"Once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."
|A much loved and twice-sewn bunny|
May you have many toothless years ahead of you. May your hair go astray, and your concerns leave you. May you celebrate your fun and successes. May you receive Love's touch. Mostly though, may you always receive a visit from the Nursery magic fairy when you need it, and may you fall into the certainty of divinity's hand holding it all together.