What Can We Learn from the Velveteen Rabbit?

What Can We Learn from the Velveteen Rabbit?


A message from Wally Sackett, Vice President Sycamore

In the holiday season it is so easy to get caught up in busy activities–rushing to catch sales, parties, concerts, etc.–that we risk missing what is “real” in the season and each other.  This year I want to separate what is “authentic” from what is commercial, glitz and glitter, things that appear attractive but in the end just want to take something from you.

One of the earliest stories that I read to my children was, The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. It speaks to a very fundamental truth about relationships, connection, trust, and authenticity. In the story the Skin Horse is the favorite toy of the child and by being played with and loved the toy horse becomes “real.”

“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.”

When one works in health care, we come to understand that authenticity is a vital component of connecting with another human being. Being “real” is typically not in our job description. But it is absolutely essential to creating a healing environment. It’s hard work, requires vulnerability, even hurts sometimes. But it is the basis of trust which is the basis of healing.

God became one of us so that we would come to know him/her as “real”. God is love. In His Spirit, this season and next year, I want to be more authentic.  I want Sycamore Medical Center to be an organization where authenticity creates the place where healing begins.

Ralph Waldo Emerson on authenticity

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make
you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”


January 9, 2014