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“What is real?”—A critical question posed to those seeking authenticity.

This is worked out in The Velveteen Rabbit (1922) by the American-British author Margery Williams. What appears to be the story of a little boy’s relationship with his stuffed rabbit becomes something else. Her toy animals speak.

“What is real?” asks the Velveteen Rabbit, a stocking stuffer ignored by the little boy that Christmas morning in lieu of the more modern wind-up toys in the nursery.

The Skin Horse, the favorite of the boy’s uncle, responds, “When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

After the holidays, the grandmother slips the Velveteen Rabbit into the arms of the little boy, asleep in his bed. The next morning, they become inseparable.

Months of cuddling the stuffed rabbit evidence the boy’s growing affection for his pet: bent and missing whiskers, glass eye hanging by a thread, worn patches of velveteen on the haunches, discolored torn ear. Then comes the change.

It comes with the boy’s scarlet fever, and with the single tear from the Velveteen Rabbit’s good eye coursing down its cheek: an arousal of love for his little friend. It also brings on the Nursery Magic Fairy who honors his fresh spirit, kisses him on the nose, then leads him to other rabbits in the forest where he becomes one among them.

This story of transformation appealed to me. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, my body continues wearing down, feelings surface through daily bogs, and grief’s tears water my psyche: all expressions of deepening love for Creator God who has brought me this far in life. I, too, must become real and submit to the stripping/loving in our relationship. To this ongoing process, I bring heartfelt trust.

 

This morning’s dream invited me to enter Silence. I was alone. Soft light-warmth permeated every cell of my being: Tingly with joy all over, like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It seemed to last forever, until jolted back into my old body with its worsening symptoms, but not to fret. In memory, I can return to this exquisite revelation of what is surely to come. Someone loves me with exceeding gentleness—and everyone else, as well.

Early this morning, I awoke with this corrective dream:

Anxious, restless, and hungry, I turn over in my hospital bed and check the wall clock—still several hours before the breakfast trays will reach our floor. Then, I pull the mask over my eyes and doze, until roused by the food cart’s rumbling in the corridor. More time passes and no breakfast. “Have you got a tray for Moloney?” I finally yell. An aproned server stops by my door and says, “No—Didn’t get an order for one.”

 After a short interval, he returns with hot biscuits and gravy, bacon, fruit juices, and coffee, all of which trigger the inflammation of my rheumatoid arthritis, if eaten.

Anxious, restless, and hunger suggest multiple faces of anger hiding out in my unconscious, out of reach from my blogger’s mind; how easily it has spoken of acceptance of the terminal malaise in my body. Yet, decreased breathing in tow with weakness has opened me to the biology of my body. Such has cast me within a deeper dimension of suffering, a new marker along the path toward my transition. Only with its recognition can I unite with the Passion of the Cosmic Christ in our midst.

Another take on the dream suggests my need for closer scrutiny with the “feedings” of news outlets, slanted by journalists’ and talk show hosts’ politicization of their stories. Instead of being informed, confusion and overwhelment result. Few ask my opinion, anyway. Given my present circumstances and limited time, other resources can better keep me strong in spirit and teachable.

With the Crucified, I pray, “Passion of Christ, strengthen me.” from the Anima Christi, attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola, (1491 – 1556).

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