Have you a cuddly toy which is special to you?
Each of my children has or has had. Boing Boing the tiger (named after the noise Tigger from Winnie the Pooh makes) is currently very much part of our family life, and indeed of the life of the classroom he regularly goes to. So special is he that he has to have a special collar with his phone number on should catastrophe happen and he gets lost in his travels. Once he went on the school roof and anxious teachers had to climb up to retrieve him.
Cuddly toys give comfort, constant and faithful companionship, and are an object for love. They are very special, and often live on in memory. So special are they that they can feature in worship too. In one parish in which I worked a little girl came for a blessing at Mass and always held up her cuddly toy for a blessing too.
Archbishop John Habgood was once asked whether cuddly toys go to heaven. He gave a characteristically measured and careful answer talking about how the relationship between the special toy and its ”owner’ enriched and enhanced the life of the owner, and others, and was one of tenderness and love, and that surely would be preserved and enhanced in God’s kingdom.
I was sad to hear of the death of Michael Bond the author of the Paddington Bear books. Paddington, the bear from deepest, darkest Peru was found at Paddington station with the label ‘Please look after this bear.’ Paddington’s eternal optimism and refusal to be defeated by life made him very special. No doubt he was very special to his creator, who based him on a teddy bear he found on the street and rescued. Undoubtedly Paddington, with his familiar hat and duffle coat, has been a friend to many children, and indeed adults.
I was very moved by a lovely cartoon which has appeared – copied here. Paddington holds hands with Michael Bond and offers a simple request, a prayer, for him. It’s a reminder to us all to be childlike, and an encouragement to us to be optimistic too. It’s a delightful thought that not only do our cuddly toys travel with us through the valley of the shadow of death, but also in a simple, touching way they may look after us for ever.