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“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)


It’s the Happiest Time of the Year. Surely you recall those oft-sung words from the famous Christmas song. At this time of the year the elf community is jumping for joy, and why not? They are real, they do good things and I can prove it. This December, more than any other,
I’ve truly experienced the presence of elves. What a happy bunch they are. It’s a story worth sharing.

This is about a mother recovering from breast cancer surgery and her two small children––– who were left suddenly, unexpectedly on their own. They were evicted from their home. Their car was repossessed; the mother was unemployed. And Christmas was coming.

Then, the elves showed up. And they came in droves. Friends created a funding page that raised money for temporary housing. A software company paid for a month’s rent in an apartment. A stranger––a total stranger–– gave them a car; he wasn’t using it so he played elf. A moving company took the family's belongings out of storage and moved them into the apartment. An elf from a nursery showed up with a Christmas tree, fully decorated, plus goodies and a wish list for the children to have toys under the tree. A children’s Christmas wish list on Amazon triggered a flow of packages to be opened on Christmas morning, obviously the work of unidentified elves. An office staff (more elves) took up a collection and paid for another month's rent. The American Cancer Society (elves, to be sure) provided house cleaning for two months. Food has been delivered in abundance. Donations and Facebook Sharing continue to stabilize the family.

Are you a believer in elves yet?

The story has many lessons, the most important is: hard times don’t break a person they also make a person.

Hard times are storms that ravage your body and mind. They hold you back from places you might otherwise go and tear away essential parts of you. But afterward, you see yourself as you really are in the present, without needless attachments. 

In a very real sense, you are here to endure such storms, to risk your heart, to be bruised by life.  And when you are hurt, or betrayed, or rejected, let yourself sit quietly with your eyes closed and remember all the good times you had, and all the sweetness you tasted, and everything you learned.  Tell yourself how amazing the journey has been, then remind yourself that pain is a necessary part of it all.

In all seasons of life, your goal shouldn’t be to seek a perfect, pain-free existence, but to live an imperfect and sometimes painful one in radical amazement. Get up every morning and take a good look around without taking anything for granted. Everything is extraordinary in its own right.  Every day is a gift. Never treat life casually. Being spiritual, how ever you may, is being amazed in every way––even when things don't go your way.

Once your time of mourning is over, press forward. Be stronger with a greater understanding and respect for life. 

Oh, and don’t forget to be an elf.

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