I have commented before that I am taking an online course on resilience , and that course is taught by a professor who wrote a book on the subject called Ordinary Magic, which looks at the factors that protect children from the worst effects of the traumas that some children have to deal with in life. According to the professor, some of the protective factors are internal, like intelligence or self-control and some are external, especially attachment in families or with romantic partners (sadly, no luck there) as well as spirituality and religion (here I have been more fortunate) that help foster the development of young people in terms of their talents and relationships. If someone is under great distress and trauma in life, and few would deny that is true for me and for many people I happen to know, there are two places where one can find resources–within oneself in one’s own talents and abilities and character and service towards others, and without in terms of the resources one is able to obtain from God and from other people. Obviously, the more resources we have available to us, the better able we are to cope with life’s difficulties.
Today I went horseback riding with a friend of mine. It has been more than 20 years since I last went horseback riding at the Feast of Tabernacles in Daytona Beach, but it is an activity that is commonly used for therapy for those who have suffered trauma. The reason for this is simple; horses are animals with whom people can develop a deep bond because of the closeness and intimacy of the activity of riding horses, and they are animals with lovable and quirky personalities. I happened to ride a gentle and pokey chestnut quarterhorse named Dunny, and it was a pleasant way to spend an hour. The only time the horse hurried the entire time was at the end when it came time to drink water and eat some hay. It was nice to ride a horse that was relatively bombproof and gentle, even if the horse was being tormented by one of the other horses that wouldn’t leave it alone but kept following it around. I suppose being an gentle person myself brought out the best in the horse. I would also like to think that affection tends to calm me down, as rare as it tends to be in life.
As I have commented on before, gentle affection is something I have struggled to find in life . For a variety of reasons, the vast majority of the affection I receive in my life is from the kindness of children. For me this affection comes as a mixed blessing. I find it immensely gratifying that I know so many children who enjoy friendly conversation and hugs, as I tend to find such opportunities somewhat rare in the course of my interaction with peers. I would very much like to have children of my own, for although I know that they can be quite a handful, I also find them to be very lovable and adorable beings who have a lot to offer in their honesty and openness. I have a lot of affection to give, and I find it distressing in life that there are so few people who are willing and able to receive it. I suppose that is a common issue to deal with, but no less pleasant for that. Affection is one of the best ways I have for dealing with stress regulation, which is an absolutely critical aspect of my life, and so one does the best one can with the situations available
Life is full of ordinary magic, the connections that one finds in life, the sense of accomplishment one has for a job well done, and the ability to recover and succeed despite adversity. I tend to see these threads of resilience in the face of adversity, be it abuse or poverty or natural disaster, or broken families, as being an aspect of God’s grace. It is a reminder that despite the fact that life is full of stress and difficulty that it is also full of God’s grace in surprising ways. We have to be sensitive to recognizing that grace so that we are not overwhelmed by the darkness we see. It does not take a person of great ability to cope with the disasters of life, but that does not make the capacity of people to be gentle despite harsh lives, to be loving and gracious despite the horrors that we have seen. Our lives are full of magic, and hopefully, God willing, that magic can be used to make our lives better for ourselves and others, so that we may be more whole and also better able to serve others. God only knows the dark magic that this world has far too much of for us to even fathom sometimes. Yet that darkness will be overcome by the light, when the time and the situation are right.
 See, for example: