Our family carried these traditions over year after year. When we married, my brother and I incorporated them into our own families, creating new memories with our children. One year our friend, Wendy, gave my daughters a beautifully illustrated copy of “The Velveteen Rabbit” and reading this story together became part of our Easter rituals. The story is as well loved as is the velveteen rabbit himself. The truths of the story still make me tear up; the simple words are profound. When the Velveteen Rabbit asks the Skin Horse, “what is real?” the Skin Horse’s answer conveys a message of grace, reflective of the grace-filled Easter message.
“Real isn’t how you are made. 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…..It doesn’t happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen 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…..Once you are real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
For me this is the story of our own transformation. It is the annual good news that we celebrate at Easter. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, we don't know who we are. Over time, we learn and become more than our mere humanness. We become Real. At the Easter of Jesus, the human being died and rose to life as the Christ; in his own being, through his own experience, showing us the way. We die to the limitations of our humanness and rise to the truth of our divine nature, created in the image of God. It is not something that either is or is not, nor is it something that happens at the end of life, it is a becoming happening through all of life’s events and situations. Sometimes it takes a long time to see it as it is unfolding. But once we see it and know it, it can never be taken from us. While we live in human form, and we come to know how much we are loved by God and how much we are Love, we become more Real, more Christ-like, more Love in expression, more congruent with our eternal nature.