1 Corinthians 13, v.1-8 (from The Street Bible, by Rob Lacey)
If I get supernatural talent to speak fluent Matabolese, or even Angelese, but I'm rusty on the language of love, then I'm just clattering round like a broken drum kit. If I've got access to next month's news, or philosophy's big questions, if I know more than anyone, if I can shift a mountain range by will power, but I forget how love fits in, I may as well not exist. If I donate my millions to charity, but my love account's in the red, if I volunteer to be a martyr, but my love gland's dead, then I'm a waste of space.
What is love anyway? Not the tripe you've been force-fed! No, love gives people space and time; it does people good. It's not jealous, loud-mouthed or cocky. It's not vulgar; it doesn't look after number one. It's not got a short fuse - it forgives and forgets. Love doesn't smile when dark stuff goes on, but throws a party when the truth gets out. It protects more than a blockbuster hero; it trusts more than a toddler. It's always positive; it always hangs in there. Love doesn't let you down.
The Big Three are (1) taking God at his word, (2) believing in his prospects
and (3) being capable of love. But top of the Three is Love. Everything else
is approaching its sell-by date.
Extract from 'The Velveteen Rabbit', by Margery Williams
The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He 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, and he 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 all about it.
"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."