Once You Are Real, You Can’t Be Ugly

from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery 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 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.”

{I’m usually not one to throw authorial intent out the window, but to me this feels like a description of sanctification. Life is a long process of God making us real. It hurts, but it’s worth it. I don’t think it’s what Williams meant, but I hear it every time I read it. What do you think? Am I reading to much into it?}

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2 responses

  1. Human intent aside, Authorial intent sneaks in everywhere. If all creation shows the glory of God, it rings tinnily hollow to claim that elements of His truth can't show up unless people are consciously intending for them to do so.Or as someone more reliable put it: "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)

  2. Great point. I totally agree.

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