Last week Michel Bell was with us. While he spoke briefly to the significance of mutual care and respect in our Employee Huddle, in his smaller sessions he drove home the value of relationships in our organization. What is our first Great Commandment? What is our first priority? What should guide our every decision and action – including how we relate in our work?
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us (1 John 4:7-12, ESV).
In 1922, Marjorie William wrote How Toys become Real (later titled The Velveteen Rabbit). The novel explores the question of reality by developing a story around a young boy’s relationship with his stuffed animal toys. On one occasion, the Skin Horse is speaking with the Velveteen Rabbit and says:
"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 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."
Indeed the question of ultimate reality is one that explores the objective realities outside of us. When we believe in God, it begins to help us navigate other questions about objective reality. Meaning is created by context, and when our life exists in the context of God, it has the potential for meaning. The question of meaning becomes intensely personal when we explore our place in what is real. We want to think and feel like our life somehow matters. Reality does exist outside of us, but somehow it “becomes” more real when we activate something called love and enter into a relationship with our creator and then with others.
The question, “What is real?” is abstract and philosophical, but it is also intensely personal and relevant. The question must be wrestled with in our mind, but it is also grappled with in our personal longings for relationship, meaning, and purpose. Such inquiries surface the need for something called love. Today, show love – and enjoy reality.