Do you have a friend like that? Someone who can "make it real" with simply the sound of his voice or the look in her eyes? It's such a comfort, and such an inspiration to think about what it means to be real everyday...real with ourselves, our children, our spouse, our neighbors, our God.
When I got off the phone, I went to my closet and dusted off the shoebox on a high shelf to see if I still had a letter or two from our college days. (Why don't we write letters anymore? They are such treasures!). Whew...kept a few! Attached to one of the letters (a letter that brought tears to my eyes because it was a "goodbye" letter and I'm terrible at goodbyes) was a copy of the words from one of my all-time favorite stories: The Velveteen Rabbit.
Instead of continuing to reflect out loud with you about what it means to be real (I'm still learning), I'll leave you with my favorite part of the story:
"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 your 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.
"The Boy's Uncle made me Real," he said. "That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."