My favorite children’s book did not become a favorite until I was a teen. In fact, if my memory serves me correctly, I don’t think I had even heard of The Velveteen Rabbit, until we read it in our High School Sunday School class at church. Our youth leader, Ed Salo, was someone I greatly admired in my teen years, and quite possibly why this book has continued to mean so much to me.
The Velveteen Rabbit (or How Toys Become Real) was written by Margery Williams in 1922. If you do not know the story, you can read it for yourself here. I still have my copy of the book that I bought when I was 17 years old, it is packed away and after this I might just have to go dig it out. I also purchased copies of the book for all of my friends in our youth group. We had all become very close that year, and it was my going away to college gift to them all.
The book is about a toy rabbit that is loved very much by a little boy. He loves him so much, he takes him every where with him. As you can imagine the rabbit made of velveteen begins to become worn and tattered from all of the love. The rabbit is on a quest to become real. The young boy becomes ill, and the rabbit is discarded with other toys as it is feared to be infected with scarlet fever germs. It is then in a bag waiting to be burned that the velveteen rabbit becomes a real rabbit.
The book has been interpreted over the years has having a deeper meaning for many. The underlying message to me is about unconditional love. Love isn’t always beautiful and perfect. At times it is messy and ugly. The people we love are sometimes tattered and torn, but if we truly love them, unconditionally, we must accept them the way they are.
It is hard work to become “real” ourselves. We need to be open and honest with those around us, and also with ourselves.
I am still working on being real. How about you?