Saturday, December 27, 2008

Becoming Real

I suppose it is pretty obvious that things that matter must also be real at least in some way. We live in a very materialistic age that often seems to think that either nothing matters at all, or that whatever matters is tangible and real in the sense that it is made of molecules and atoms.

Common experience puts the lie to such a crude interpretation of the real. No human being is ever fulfilled by things, dead and lifeless, incapable of giving love even if they can be loved in a fashion like the ice queen. I suppose it is a bit schmaltzy but I always think of the Velveteen Rabbit

"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.

Thomas Dubay wrote a book titled "Authenticity" which is about biblical discernment but I think it goes further than that. Authenticity is about embracing the real and the real is more than the dance of atoms. We can't see all that is real. In the simplest sense this includes things like magnetic fields and gravity which we do experience but cannot see. There are other things which we can't see but we somehow apprehend, things like goodness, justice, beauty, truth, things like the three theological virtues: faith, hope, and love.

To be real a thing must possess that most fundamental of all attributes, existence.
Some real things have to come to us to show they are real like the angel came to Mary or we have to trust those who communicate unseen realities to us often because they have been so profoundly influenced that they live lives that have been transformed and we see the reality of their experience in the transformation of their lives. Saints fill that bill!

The challenge we all have is to become real, as real as possible. Perhaps that is why I like the Velveteen Rabbit so much.

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