The Velveteen Rabbit

Easter Intergenerational Service

Rev. Greg Ward and

Rev. Donna Morrison-Reed

Adapted from the original story of the same name by

Margery Williams

First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto

March 30, 1997

  Download Script (14K)

Cast:

Nursery Fairy:
The Velveteen Rabbit:
The Skin Horse:
The Boy
Nana:
Rabbit 1:
Rabbit 2
The Jointed Lion:
Tin Soldiers:
Raggedy Anne

Overview:

This service helps us understand the idea of transformation.   As with the transformation of the Velveteen Rabbit, no profound change within us occurs without some pain.   But when we have courage and openness, then transformation allows us to live lives which are more worthwhile, more fulfilling and which make us more “real.”

Staging:

At the beginning, the rabbits and the toys and the skin horse go around in the aisles of the congregation and pass out plastic eggs (perhaps with toys or candy inside).   The prelude music switches over to the opening hymn.   At that point, everyone who is not already in the sanctuary begins to come in shake hands with people and pass out Easter candy.   Everyone is in a circle facing the center of the congregation.   There is a microphone set up at one side and the Narrator (Nursery Fairy) has another mic.

There are two primary scenes: The boy’s bedroom and the garden outside.   Some evidence of each needs to be present, such as a table made to look like a bed (with pillows) and some potted plants for the garden.

Props:

There are simple costumes for the characters.   The two rabbits have ears and white clothes.   The Skin Horse has ears and a small paper mache snout.   Nana is wearing an apron.   The jointed Lion has a small furry mane wrapped around his neck.   Raggedy any has string hair and a bright print dress with red rouge on her cheeks.   The Velveteen Rabbit has ears like the other two rabbits, but of a different color.   The Nursery Fairy (Narrator) might have a small tiara, a star wand or even some glittering wings. 

PROCESSIONAL HYMN 361           Enter Rejoice and Come In”

 (Nursery Fairy moves over to the pulpit during the last part of the hymn)

  STORY OPENING

Nursery Fairy:  

There was once a velveteen rabbit, and in the beginning she was quite splendid.   She was plump and bunchy, as a rabbit should be; her coat was spotted brown and white, she had real thread whiskers, and her ears were lined with pink sateen.   On Christmas morning, when she sat wedged in the top of the Little Boy’s stocking, with a sprig of holly between her paws, the effect was charming.

  CHALICE LIGHTING

Rabbit 1:

We light this chalice to melt away our disbelief so that underneath the magical parts of us that long to be real will awaken and emerge 

Rabbit 2:

We light this chalice to create a place where love has the power to transform us
A place where we can celebrate
the transforming magic of Easter         

WELCOME AND GREETING      

RABBIT 1:  

Good morning!   And   Happy Easter!   Welcome to the (Name of Congregation).   We are people of all ages looking for truth, meaning, love and deep connections.   Sometimes we connect through story.   This morning is one such occasion.   Today, all of us are going to experience some magic.   It is Easter magic.   So we want you to turn to those around you, and meet the people who will help you discover this magic.   Please take time to offer one another the hand of friendship.  

Small choir         HYMN   30       “Over My Head...”

I feel wonder in the air
I feel magic in the air
I feel loving in the air
 

STORY PART I

(Pause before the small choir alternates with Nursery Fairy’s reading.   Small Choir starts.   Their voices blend in and out with one another.)  

small Choir                    “Over my Head I feel wonder in the air...  

Nursery Fairy :

On Christmas morning, there were other things in the stocking, but the Rabbit was quite the best of all.            

Small ChoiR:                    “Over my Head, I feel wonder in the air...            

Nursery Fairy :

For at least two hours the Boy loved her.   And then Aunts and Uncles came to dinner,            

small ChoiR:                    “Over my Head, I feel wonder in the air...  

Nursery Fairy:

and there was a great rustling of tissue paper and unwrapping of packages, and in the excitement of all the new presents the Velveteen Rabbit was forgotten.              

small ChoiR:                    “There must be a God somewhere....”            

Nursery Fairy

For a long time she lived in the toy cupboard or on the nursery floor and no one thought much about her.   She was naturally shy, and being only made of velveteen, some of the more expensive toys snubbed her.   The mechanical toys (marching around like tin soldiers and looking sternly at the Velveteen Rabbit) were very superior, and looked down upon everyone else.   They were full of modern ideas, and pretended they were real.           

Even Timothy, the jointed wooden lion, and Raggedy Anne, put on airs and pretended they were connected with the Government.   All   the toys made the poor little Rabbit feel very insignificant and commonplace.   The only person who was kind to her was the Skin Horse.                    

The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others.   She was so old that his silvery mane was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath.   Most of the hairs on his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces.   She was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away.   She knew that they were only toys and would never turn into anything else.   For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand it.    

Velveteen Rabbit:  

What is REAL?   Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick out handle?    

Skin Horse:

Real isn’t how you are made.   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. 

Velveteen Rabbit:

Does it hurt?  

Skin Horse:

Sometimes it does.   That’s part of the deal.   When you are Real then things can really touch you.   And you notice how much they matter.   And when you are real you can say “ouch!” to the things that hurt, and give real hugs to the things you love. 

Velveteen Rabbit:

Does it happen all at once, like being wound up?   Or does it happen bit by bit?  

Skin Horse:

It doesn’t happen all at once.   You become REAL.   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.    

Velveteen Rabbit:

(Cautiously)

I suppose... you.... are Real?  

Skin Horse:  

(Offering a reassuring smile)

The Boy’s uncle made me Real.   That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again.   It lasts for always.                  

Nursery Fairy:

The Rabbit sighed.   She thought it would be a long time before this magic called Real could happen to her.   She longed to become Real, to know what it felt like.   And yet the idea of growing shabby and losing eyes and whiskers was rather sad.   She wished that she could become real without these uncomfortable things happening to her.    

JOYS AND CONCERNS

Rabbit 1:

It would be so nice if we could all become real without having uncomfotable things happen to us.   Who wants to have their eyes drop out, or have their limbs get loose, or have their hair fall out?   Who wants to become shabby?   Those things hurt! 

Rabbit 2:   

Boy!!   Do they ever!!.   But the only way to stay new is to stay forever on the shelf.   And then we will never become real. 

Rabbit 1:

What happens when we become real? 

Rabbit 2:

Being real means loving and being loved even though it hurts sometimes. 

RABBIT 1:

OUCH! 

RABBIT 2:

Then we are concerned.   But sometimes it’s an amazing feeling of joy. 

RABBIT 1:

And we feel like we’re going to burst with love. 

RABBIT 2:

We all need to share what makes us real.   At this point, if you feel the need, we extend to you the opportunity to share a short joy or concern with this community.   

RABBIT 1:

Please stand where you are, and as you give voice to what’s real for you, we will light one of these candles.  

 (Piano begins to play “Over My Head.”   This will act as an indicator for the congregation that the story is going to start again.)  

STORY PART II

Nursery Fairy:

There was a person called Nana who ruled the nursery.   Sometimes she went swooping about the playroom like a great wind and hustled the toys away into cupboards.   She called this “tidying up,” and the playthings all hated it, especially the tin ones.   The Rabbit didn’t mind so much, for wherever she was thrown she came down soft.                    

One evening, when the Boy was going to bed, he couldn’t find the china dog that always slept with him.   Nana was in a hurry and it was too much trouble to hunt for china dogs at bedtime, so she simply looked about, and seeing that the toy cupboard door stood open she made a swoop.         

Nana:

Here, take your old Bunny!   He’ll do to sleep with you!”                    

Nursery Fairy:

And she dragged the Rabbit out by one ear and put her into the Boy’s arms.           

That night, and for many nights after, the Velveteen Rabbit slept in the Boy’s bed.   At first she found it uncomfortable, for the Boy hugged her very tight, and sometimes he rolled over on her, and sometimes he pushed her so far under the pillow that the Rabbit could scarcely breathe.   And she missed, too, those long moonlight hours in the nursery when all the house was silent, and her talks with the Skin Horse.   But very soon she grew to like it, for the Boy used to talk to her, and made nice tunnels for her under the bedclothes that he said were like the burrows the real rabbits lived in.   And they had splendid games together, in whispers, when Nana had gone away to her supper and left the nightlight burning on the mantelpiece.   And when the Boy dropped off to sleep, the Rabbit would snuggle down close under his little warm chin and dream, with the Boy’s hands clasped close round him all night long.                     

And so time went on, and the little Rabbit was very happy - so happy that she never noticed how her beautiful velveteen fur was getting shabbier and shabbier, and her tail coming unsewn, and all the pink rubbed off her nose where the Boy had kissed her.                    

 (Enter Rabbits 1&2 who address the congregation) 

Rabbit 1:

I think the magic is working! 

Rabbit 2:

Sometimes all we have to do is to find a place where love is trying to happen and then - let it!   The love will change us into real. 

Rabbit 1:

And that’s magic?  

Rabbit 2:  

Sort of.   That’s the gift that comes with believing in magic.   It is the same gift that comes with believing in love.   It is the transforming magic of love that we celebrate at Easter. 

Rabbit 1:

That sounds so simple. 

Rabbit 2:

‘Tis a gift to be simple.         

CHILDREN / ADULT CHOIR “‘Tis a Gift To Be Simple” 

STORY PART III

Nursery Fairy:

Spring came and they had long days in the garden, for wherever the Boy went the Rabbit went too.   Once, though, when the Boy was called away suddenly the Rabbit was left out on the lawn until long after dusk, and Nana had to come and look for her with the candle because the Boy couldn’t go to sleep unless she was there.   She was quite wet and earthy and Nana grumbled as she rubbed the Velveteen Rabbit off with a corner of her apron.         

Nana:

You must have your old Bunny!   Fancy all that fuss for a toy!

            (The Boy sits up in bed and stretches out his hands.) 

Boy:   

Give me my Bunny!   You musn’t say that!   He isn’t a toy.   He’s REAL. 

SMALL CHOIR:        (Singing)

                        “Over My Head, I feel magic in the air...” 

Nursery Fairy

When the little Rabbit heard that she was happy, for she knew that what the Skin Horse had said was true at last.   The nursery magic had happened to her, and she was a toy no longer .   She was real.   The Boy himself had said it.         

small Choir:       “Over my Head, I feel magic in the air...”         

Nursery Fairy:

That night she was almost too happy to sleep, and so much love stirred in her little sawdust heart that it almost burst.           

small Choir:       “Over my Head, I feel magic in the air...”         

Nursery Fairy:

And into her boot-button eyes, that had long ago lost their polish, there came a look of wisdom and beauty, so that even Nana noticed it next morning when she picked her up and said...         

Nana:

I declare if that old Bunny hasn’t got quite a Knowing Expression!            

SMALL CHOIR:        “There Must Be a God Somewhere” 

Nursery Fairy:

That was a wonderful summer!! 

The Velveteen Rabbit went everywhere with the Little Boy, especially into the garden where the boy made nests and burrows for her to play in.   One evening, while the rabbit was lying there alone, watching the ants that ran to and fro between her velvet paws, she saw two strange creatures creep out of the bracken nearby.                    

They were rabbits like she but quite furry and brand new.   They must have been very well made, for their seams didn’t show at all, and they changed shape in a queer way when they moved; one minute they were long and thin, and the next fat and bunchy, instead of always staying the same.   The rabbits crept quite close to her twitching their noses, while the Rabbit stared hard to see which side the clockwork stuck out, for she knew that people who jumped generally have something to wind them up.   But she couldn’t see it.   This was evidently a new kind of rabbit altogether.   They stared at her and she stared back at them.   And all the while their noses twitched.   

Rabbit 1:

“Why don’t you get up and play with us?” 

Velveteen Rabbit:

“I don’t feel like it,” 

Rabbit 2:

Oh!   It’s as easy as anything. (Hopping sideways and standing on hindlegs)   I don’t believe you can. 

Velveteen Rabbit:

I can!!   I can jump higher than anything!   

Nursery Fairy:

She had meant when the Boy threw her, but of course she didn’t want to say so. 

Rabbit 2:

Can you hop on your hind legs? 

Nursery Fairy:  

That was a dreadful question for the Velveteen Rabbit had no hind legs at all!   Her back was made all in one piece, like a pincushion. She sat still in the bracken, and hoped that the other rabbits wouldn’t notice. 

Velveteen Rabbit:  

I don’t want to! 

Nursery Fairy:

But wild rabbits have very sharp eyes.   And one of them stretched out his neck and looked. 

Rabbit 1:

(Laughing)

She hasn’t got any hind legs!   Fancy a rabbit without any hind legs! 

Velveteen Rabbit:

I have!   I have got hind legs!   I’m sitting on them. 

Rabbit 2:     

Then stretch them out and show me, like this

(Rabbit 2 shakes and then the two rabbits start dancing around the velveteen rabbit) 

Velveteen Rabbit:

I don’t like dancing.   I’d rather sit still! 

Nursery Fairy:  

But all the while she was longing to dance, for a funny new tickly feeling ran through her, and she felt she would give anything in the world to be able to jump about like these rabbits.   The strange rabbits stopped dancing and one of them came close. 

Rabbit 1:

She doesn’t smell right!   She isn’t a rabbit at all!   She isn’t real. 

Velveteen Rabbit:

(beginning to cry)

I am REAL!   I am REAL!   The boy said so! 

Nursery Fairy:

Just then there was a sound of footsteps, and the Boy passed near them and with a scamper of paws and a flash of white tails the two strange rabbits disappeared. 

Velveteen Rabbit:

Come back and play with me!   Oh, do come back!   I know I am REAL! 

Nursery Fairy:

But there was no answer, only the little ants ran to and fro, and the bracken swayed gently where the two stranger rabbits had passed.   The Velveteen Rabbit was all alone.   

MEDITATION

Raggedy Anne:  

What happened?   I thought she had nursery magic to make her real. 

The Skin Horse:

Not everyone always believes in nursery magic.   Sometimes people can be mean and they don’t notice the magic happening.   That’s when being real hurts. 

Raggedy Anne:

What will she do? 

The Skin Horse:

If she really believes that love is magic then she may still become real.   If not she may climb back on the shelf and go back to being stiff and lonely.   But you can always help. 

Raggedy Anne:

How? 

The Skin Horse:

By helping her see past the loneliness and the empty moments.   Help her see the love that exists all around her.   Your love will help her to believe in herself - and everything around her.   The love she longs for is closer than she thinks… and she’ll find it…. if she’s willing to keep looking.   Let’s take a moment to look in our hearts to see if the love she is looking for is waiting there. 

SILENCE  

HYMN   95               “There is More Love Somewhere” 

STORY PART IV

Nursery Fairy:

Weeks passed and the Velveteen Rabbit saw how her brown spots faded and her whiskers all fell out and she even began to lose shape.   She scarcely looked like a rabbit anymore except to the Boy.   To him, she was always beautiful, for the nursery magic had made her real to the boy, and when you are REAL shabbiness doesn’t matter.                  

But one day the boy became ill.           

SMALL CHOIR:        (Singing slowly and softly)

                        “Over my Head, I feel trouble in the air...”         

Nursery Fairy:

His face grew very flushed and he talked in his sleep, and his little body was so hot that it burned the Rabbit when he held her close.           

small Choir:       “Over my Head, I feel trouble in the air...”         

Nursery Fairy:

Strange people came and went in the nursery, and a light burned all night.   Through it all the Velveteen Rabbit lay there, hidden from sight under the bedclothes.         

small Choir:       “Over my Head, I feel trouble in the air...”         

Nursery Fairy:

She never stirred for she was afraid that if they found her someone might take her away and she knew that the Boy needed her.         

small Choir:       “There must be a God somewhere.”         

Nursery Fairy:

It was a long time that the Boy was sick and the Velveteen Rabbit waited under the covers for the fever to turn, so they could go out and play again.   One bright sunny morning that’s just what happened.   Nana carried the boy out on the balcony.    The little rabbit lay tangled in the bedclothes listening as Nana explained that the boy would be going to the seaside tomorrow.   The doctor said that all the books and toys the Boy had played with in bed had to be burned and the room disinfected.                    

“Hurray” thought the little Rabbit.   “Tomorrow we shall go to the seaside.”   Just then Nana caught sight of the Velveteen Rabbit in the bed.   

Nana:

How about his old Bunny? 

Nursery Fairy:

“That?”   said the doctor.   Why it’s a mass of scarlet fever germs!   Burn it at once!                  

And so the little Rabbit was put into a sack with the old picture-books and a lot of rubbish and carried out to the end of the garden behind the house.   That was a fine place to make a bonfire.   Only the gardener was too busy just then.   He promised to do it first thing next morning.   That night, while the Boy was asleep, dreaming of the seaside, the little Rabbit lay among the old picture-books and dirty linens trapped in the sack behind the corner of the house.   She felt very lonely.   

SMALL CHOIR:        (Singing very slowly)

                                    “Over my Head, I feel a sadness in the air...”         

Nursery Fairy:

She was shivering a little, for she had always been used to sleeping in a proper bed, and by this time her coat had worn so thin and threadbare from hugging that it no longer provided any warmth.         

small Choir:       “Over my Head, I feel a sadness in the air...”         

Nursery Fairy:

Nearby she could see the edge of the garden where she and the Boy played so often.   She thought of those happy times in the sun.   Then she wondered what would happen to her now and a great sadness fell over her.           

small Choir:       “Over my Head, I feel a sadness in the air...”         

Nursery Fairy:

She thought of how she had become REAL and all the things the Skin Horse had told her would happen.   Of what use was it to be loved and lose one’s beauty and become REAL if it all ended like this?   And a tear, a real tear, trickled down her little shabby velvet nose and fell to the ground.           

small Choir:        “There must be a God somewhere.” 

Skin Horse:

(reading from the pulpit)

And then a strange thing happened.   For where the tear had fallen a flower grew out of the ground - a flower not at all like any that had ever grown in the garden.   It was so beautiful that the little Rabbit forgot to cry, and just lay there watching it.   And presently the blossom opened, and out of it there stepped a fairy, quite the loveliest fairy in the whole world.   And she came close to the little Rabbit and gathered her up in her arms and kissed her on her velveteen nose that was all damp from crying. 

Nursery Fairy:

Little Rabbit, don’t you know who I am? 

Velveteen Rabbit:

(looking a little unsure) 

Nursery Fairy:

I am the nursery magic Fairy.   I take care of all the playthings that the children have loved.   When they are old and worn out and the children don’t need them anymore, then I come and take them away with me and turn them into REAL. 

Velveteen Rabbit:

Wasn’t I REAL before? 

Nursery Fairy:

You were REAL to the Boy because he loved you.   Now you shall be REAL to everyone. 

(Fairy and the Velveteen Rabbit walk hand in hand down to the forest end of the sanctuary where Rabbit1 and Rabbit2 are waiting.) 

Nursery Fairy:

(to the two rabbits)

I’ve brought you a friend to play with.   You must be kind to her and teach her all she needs to know in Rabbit land, for she is going to live with you forever and ever! 

(A period of scrutiny and self examination where the Velveteen Rabbit finds out she actually does have hind legs and can dance.   Then all three rabbits dance together.) 

OFFERTORY

Rabbit 1:

Making something real calls us to love in transforming ways: 

Rabbit 2:     

All that we have and all that are makes us real and helps bring magic to our world. 

The Velveteen Rabbit:

All that this church is, all the magic it brings, comes because we help love it into realness. 

Rabbit 1:

We will now receive this morning’s offering. 

Rabbit 2:

Sometimes being real hurts. 

CHILDREN’S CHOIR:   “All Things Bright and Beautiful” 

STORY EPILOGUE

Nursery Fairy:

Autumn passed and Winter, and in the Spring, when the days grew warm and sunny, the Boy went out to play in the wood behind the house.   And while he was playing, three rabbits crept out from the bracken and peeped at him.   One of them looked so familiar that the boy could not take his eyes off the little bunny.   The face with the whiskers just so and the round black eyes made the boy think to himself: 

Boy:  

Why, that rabbit looks just like my old Bunny that I lost when I had scarlet fever! 

Nursery Fairy:  

But he never knew that it really was his own Bunny, come back to look at the child who had first helped her to become REAL.   

FAMILY CHOIR:                 (Singing)

                                    “Over my Head, I feel a loving in the air...” 

Velveteen Rabbit :  

In your life, who has loved you into REAL?           

Family Choir:      “Over my Head, I feel a loving in the air...”         

Rabbit 2:

Who have you loved and helped to become REAL? 

Rabbit 1:

We all have the magic to make things real.   It’s in our hearts.....         

Family Choir:      “Over my Head, I feel a loving in the air...”            

The Velveteen Rabbit:

That is the Easter message.   Love has the power to make life REAL.   Let us unleash - and live everyday with this magic.    Bless yourself - and everything around you - with the gift of being REAL.         

Family Choir:                   “There must be a God somewhere.”

(There is no pause between hymns.   As soon as “…be a God somewhere.” ends the very next note is beginning “Lo, The Earth Awakes Again.”   The congregation will catch up.) 

RECESSIONAL HYMN 61     “Lo, The Earth Awakes Again”

Back to Script Menu