Once again I find myself saying I love Twitter. I can’t quite sleep, so of course I start scrolling through, wondering what marvel I will happen upon in the middle of the night. This time it was The Elephant Man who caught my eye.

I’ve been interested in Joseph (John) Merrick, known as The Elephant Man because of his terrible disfigurement, since seeing the movie about him, starring Anthony Hopkins and John Hurt. Many people could not bear to look at him, while conversely others paid to see him. Much of his life was one of degradation and despair.

His eventual friendship with London surgeon Dr. Frederick Treves led to the letters chronicled in this article , which I found extremely moving. They shine a bright light on the wonderful, in the often dismal quality in various walks of life of the people of Victorian England. This Wikipedia entry goes into a lot of fascinating information about this remarkable man’s life. My favorite moment depicted in the movie is that Princess Alexandra befriended him, apparently seeing the erudite nature of the man behind the deformities over which he had no control.

Something I didn’t expect to find within these letters was Francis Carr-Gomm’s eloquent explanation of why God allows such horrendous suffering. This question becomes a point of anguish for those of us who must watch someone we love dearly suffer tremendous pain, especially for an extended time. Carr-Gomm showed himself through his words in these letters on behalf of Joseph Merrick to be a wise, kind, and benevolent natured man, while Treves and all the people who found ways to help a lovely, gentle, intelligent soul trapped within a monstrous exterior were examples of the best the Victorian Age had to offer.

I wish Joseph Merrick had been given opportunity to live his entire life among the kindest of strangers, many of whom became friends. Regardless of his earlier treatment, it is a beautiful thing that in his final years he found peace and the experience of happiness most of us take for granted, even when we think we know what true unhappiness is.