Fairies in the garden, elves on the bookcase

Grief statue
Sorrow touches us all.

We’ve all been there:

Have you ever been through a rough patch and longed to read something that would speak hope into your life? Or have you ever tried to support a hurting friend, wanting to offer some reading material that would serve that same purpose? Perhaps you’ve longed for a way to speak peace and comfort into your friend’s life, but feared seeming presumptuous or saying the wrong thing. Or, if you’re like me, you’ve considered about ten heavy and long-winded monstrosities only to throw up your hands in despair. How could anyone who is hurting read such intellectually demanding material anyway? In those moments when intellectual capacity seems overwhelmed by a tidal wave of emotion, what’s to be done? Well, let’s start with the stuff you probably already know.

“Walking with God through Pain and Suffering” by Timothy Keller

Showing love when it matters most

Take the time to be with your hurting friend. Listen. Recognize that you have never experienced exactly what they are experiencing. Don’t be afraid to share – but do so authentically and in a spirit of hope.

Bible verses and prayers seem trite to some people, but not to me. When a friend takes the time to text or email or send a note, and when they’ve taken the time to search out some words that they hope will speak to my situation, then I know they are thinking of me and wanting to help. That in and of itself is a gift.

Don’t underestimate the power of music. Are there “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” that have touched your life and been a source of comfort to you? Share them. Make a playlist for your hurting friend.

We’ve been tricked into thinking that flowers are just for mothers on Mother’s Day or romantic partners on anniversaries. Be the fairy in the garden. Make up a jam jar arrangement for the teacher who always seems frazzled. Send a bouquet to the single friend whose family has just moved out of country. These are the gestures that give hope to others as well as to ourselves – hope that there really are “kindred spirits” in the world.

“Elf Help: Friendship Therapy”

Smiling fairy statue in garden moss
She looks like she’s been reading these books, doesn’t she?

“Elf-Help”, no, seriously

And when you’ve done all that and you still want to do more… see if you can’t find an “Elf Help” book to fit the occasion. Okay, so if you’ve never heard of these gems, you probably have no idea what you’re missing. They are another one of my convent-discoveries.

Each book in the series contains an easy-to-read illustrated list. The books are simple, accessible and adorable. They will disarm you, make you laugh, and challenge you.

So, take this one for an example: “Keeping-up-your-spirits therapy” is just one book in this series.

It begins like this:

1. Have a good attitude. It’s healthier than a plate full of carrots.

(You have to picture this written in a calligraphic hand on the left side of the page with an illustration on the right side of what could easily be Frodo strolling through the Shire.)

The little book continues on like this with a point on every page, till we get to:

29. When everything is upside down, rest if you must – but don’t quit.

(And Frodo now seems to be doing some household renovations while consuming a half-pint of the Green Dragon’s ale.)

The book concludes with its thirty-fifth point:

35. Know that each day of your life is a gift. Have you thanked your Creator today?

(Here, Frodo has abandoned a set of crutches and appears to be dancing through Farmer Maggot’s fields.)

It’s a really, really good series of booklets. The bite-sized truisms are digestible, easy-to-read and helpful, even when there’s a tidal wave of emotion that’s hard to get through with more grown-up seeming books. You’re welcome.

It’s not stretching the truth to say you can find one for any situation.
Elf books available on Amazon (in no particular order):

Fairies in the garden, elves on the bookcase
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