In another part of the country, a young couple who are close friends of my daughter-in-law are mourning the loss of a daughter who was a light in their lives for not quite five months.
She was, in the view of many, unlucky from the start. She had Down syndrome. She had a congenital heart problem. Her parents knew that she would probably be with them for only a short time, but her death, following what had seemed to be a successful heart surgery, was still a shocking, wrenching grief.
Yet, amid that sorrow, this is some of what her young father had to say to those who gathered for her memorial service:
“As Jesus reminds us, a light in a dark room ought not to be kept hidden. Its light is life-giving, and it must be shared. And so I would like to share with you about this little light named Julia …
“Julia was a gentle whisper of God – a soul closer to the veil between this life and the next than I have ever known – quiet, humble, and like other babies in many ways, yet from the beginning, somehow in a special way closer to the raw, unfathomable power of the creating God of the universe than you or I …
“Those that had the privilege of meeting Julia and holding her will know what I mean when I say that her eyes sparkled with eternal joy, that the deepness of her gaze held something wondrous and mysterious that transcended words or heart defects or genetic anomalies.
"Julia’s beautiful, wonderful, sparkly gaze touched me to the core of my soul, deep calling to deep, and convinced me more than anything before in this life that God loves me.”
Those are the words of one wracked by the pain of death but still at peace, banishing the dark with the light of love that passes understanding.
That is also what Christmas is all about.
Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org