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Sunday, September 26, 2010

Weary and Worn Entry 31



Do you think you might see a rabbit in the Valley of Shadows?
I do.
Think for a moment about their place in nature. Rabbits are cute,gentle,curious and vulnerable. They love the peace of evening for grazing, which makes them the potential meal of every other animal that eats meat. (including humans)
These cuddly,soft creatures know what it is to be living in danger every day that they live.
Many of us feel affectionate toward rabbits (usually calling them bunnies if we don't intend to eat them), and desire to have companionship with them. Certainly we have proven our affection by re-creating them as stuffed toys for every generation?

I have known the story entitled The Velveteen Rabbit since my childhood days. Written by Margery Williams, it was first published in 1922.
The story took on a whole new meaning for me one year while I was attending a palliative care workshop at The Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal. More of that in a bit.

What do you remember about the story of the Velveteen Rabbit?

A fairly well to do boy receives a Velveteen Rabbit for Christmas. The rabbit is snubbed by other more expensive toys. They are so special that they think themselves "real". In the nursery our rabbit finds a mentor - a well worn Skin Horse who teaches him that a toy becomes real if its owner really and truly loves it.

Let's hear the skin horse speak:

"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 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."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

One day the boy misplaces his favorite toy, and the Velveteen Rabbit is given to him as a quick replacement.
Before long the Velveteen Rabbit takes his place as the boy's constant and closest companion.
After many days and hours of attention and play ,the Rabbit begins to become shabby and worn. But the boy loves him even more.

He loved him so hard that whiskers fall off,the pink lining in his ears turns grey, and his brown spots fade. He even began to lose his shape, and he scarcely looked like a rabbit any more, except to the Boy. To him he was always beautiful. The Rabbit loved him in return. He didn't mind how he looked to other people, because he felt Real, and when you are Real, shabbiness doesn't matter.

The boy falls ill with scarlet fever. Upon his recovery, he is sent to the seaside on doctor's orders. The boy wishes to take the Rabbit with him, but his doctor forbids him to take the germ-laden toy and says it must be burned along
with all the nursery toys in order to disinfect the nursery. While awaiting the bonfire, in which the Velveteen Rabbit will be burned, the Rabbit cries a real tear. This tear calls the Nursery Magic Fairy. She tells the Rabbit that he
was only real to the boy and brings him to the forest, where he realizes that he is a real rabbit at last and runs to join the other rabbits in the wild.

Perhaps when you have read this blog you might like to find the story and read it again for yourself.

In the meantime let's return to The Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal

I was in Montreal in the early 1980's at an international fellowship of Prayer Conference. One day of the conference was set aside for participants to choose and attend a workshop on something they found interesting.
The idea of treating the whole person,and not just the disease (especially in terminally ill patients, was just finding roots in North America,and The Royal Victoria had become a leader in this area. They opened up a Palliative care unit that was a fantastic place.
I was really interested in this because I wanted to be an excellent pastor and caregiver to people,so off I went. I was blessed to have a large chunk of time sitting and listening to stories of life and hardship, grace beauty and Hope... Stories also about how terminal illness certainly changes your world,and the lives of so many others.
One of the stories was about a woman who spent her last days here,and could often be seen visiting through the unit,smiling,and no longer caring about her hair loss,radical weight loss,and all the other affects that Cancer had on her life. She had faced life,and discovered that she wasn't alone.She was loved and real.
Every where she went,she carried in her arms,and old Velveteen Rabbit.

That's where I am now. Weary and worn. Chemotherapy has rubbed off my hair and whiskers,Radiation has really caused an upheaval in my throat,and my white blood cells are still low...Life hasn't always be easy...

But that's Okay. I am Real.
I am loved by Jesus and my Heavenly Father.
I am loved by my family
I am loved by my friends
I am loved by the Church


As I write this I am back in Torbay. I will begin my last week of treatments tomorrow,before returning once again to be at home in Gander,where I belong.
It is so good to belong!

Grace Be with you.



7 comments:

Michel said...

John,

May this week heal you completely and find you on the road to recovery at long last. May you come home to central with the determination to rest peacefully while resisting the temptation to get out and about as before.

May you continue to draw strength from your faith, your family, your caregivers and your friends.

May you know that our continued support and prayers are with you always.

Hugs x 1000
Marilyn

Anonymous said...

You have been real to us a long time and as each day passes you become more real. I love reading your blog and I love having you and Karen as two wonderful friends who are very real. Our thoughts and prayers are with you this week as you endure the chemo and radiation.
Hugs from Alberta to you and Karen.

Anonymous said...

hurry back....

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the continuing words of your blog.....I continue to pray for you and your healing.....The ANCHOR holds though the ship is battered,The ANCHOR holds though the sails are torn,I have fallen on my knees,to face the raging seas,The ANCHOR holds,in spite of the storm....I pray that your ANCHOR continues to hold.....looking forward to seeing you sometime soon......Violet!!!!

Anonymous said...

John,
May the strength of God ,Family and friends give you comfort in helping you heal. All your friends here in Glenwood pray for you and your family.

When God leads you to the edge of a cliff trust him fully and let go ,only one of two things will happen, either he'll catch you when you fall or he'll teach you how to fly.

Anonymous said...

Wishing and praying you well.

Blanche Bennett said...

Hi Rev. John...I just read your latest blog & I want you to know you are in my thoughts & my prayers. God bless you & your family as you journey on to good health...Blanche