The morning sun beckons me to come out and play for a little while. I accept that invitation because there’s still 42 days until the darkness recedes and the days begin to lengthen again. A light jacket is more than enough to fend off the slight chill in the air as I step out into the welcoming glow. The sound of tiny feet scurrying through the dry leaves draws my attention to the hillside just beyond my door. As I search for the source of the noise I see several squirrels bounding up out of the deep leaf litter on the forest floor. As they expload up from the ground the wind picks up the colorful leaves and carries them down into the creek. The floating leaves race past me like tiny rafts. In my wildest imagination I see little elves manning each one in a desperate attempt to be the first crew to guide their “raft” through the rapids.
I can see that the bank of the creek is littered with failed “leaf-rafts” but the little elves are a hardy clan and when they run aground they tirelessly make their way back upstream to try again. I imagine the captain encouraging his crew and saying that nobody fails unless they give up.
It wasn’t long before the elves had secured another leaf and returned with more determination than ever before. As they crested the spot where they were foiled on the last trip the tiny craft dipped and took on water. Several of elves began bailing out the leaf with acorn caps and for the first time ever they broke through the rapid in this spot. The captain rushed to the raft’s bow and peered into the distance to see more rapids ahead!
Invigorated by their recent victory the elven crew slipped through the rapids like they were born on the water. And just below that last set of rapids they saw their goal. The calm pool where the golden light plays.
As the elves glided their raft into the pool they celebrated with an song as ancient as the hills. As the song ended the purpose of the journey was revealed. Each elf produced a net made from spider web cast it into the light pool. The enchanted nets caught the very light itself and they hauled it up and collected it in a glass jar. Once the jar was full they carried it and the leaf-raft back into the forest and into a hollow log which served as the gateway to their world. The raft would be displayed in the king’s hall of honor and the jar of light would power their world for generations to come.
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