“Oh how I wish I could sing like an angel,“ she began in a soft, lilting soprano, “I’d sing carols so high and sweet.”
The soloist looked toward me and smiled, and all the cares and worries of the past week melted in one perfect, shining moment. I was mesmerized by the beauty of her voice and the majesty of the music. I smiled back rather sheepishly, as shameless tears of joy welled in my eyes and plopped rather unceremoniously down my cheeks.
I found the soloist after the concert and told her that she did indeed sing with the voice an angel. She thanked me with a big, adolescent grin, and then quickly melted into the noisy crowd of girls, family and friends who had braved an early winter storm to attend the concert.
The magic continued as we drove home in the snow, enjoying the displays of Christmas lights and talking about the concert with our weary but happy daughter. After we returned to the house we rejected the idea of turning on the television. Instead, Brian lit a fire and Sarah began playing the piano with an ease and excellence that startled me. I realized that she had become a very accomplished musician while I had been too busy doing something other than paying attention.
The magical evening was in sharp contrast to the hopeless week that had preceded it. Politicians behaving badly, the economy performing even worse, and our young men dying half a world away in a senseless war, wrestling with an often invisible, yet deadly enemy.
I thought about all of these things the next morning when I awoke before the dawn to another world of contrasts. The howl of winter winds outside was in sharp contrast to the sleepy warmth of our home. The peacefulness of our haven was in equally sharp contrast to the world outside that seems hell bent on destruction.
And then I thought about the voice of that earthbound angel and the season of hope called Christmas. I’ve often speculated why we celebrate the birth of Christ at the darkest time of the year, when historians tell us that He was most likely born sometime in late August. Suddenly, I had my answer.
We are all waiting for a miracle. At this the darkest time of year, we need to stop and remember the Gift of this season. Instead, we plow through our lives on autopilot, not seeing or feeling the days as they slip by. We promise to do better, and invariably do worse, while secretly holding out hope that somewhere, someone will rescue us. We pillory the politicians that we elect. We abuse our bodies, and then wonder why our beleaguered medical system can’t keep up with the job of saving us from ourselves.
And then there’s our poor planet. The lowliest animal knows better than to foul its own nest, and yet we consciously continue to pollute land, sea and air with reckless abandon, while unconsciously hoping that someone will rescue us from our own excesses. Once again, we are waiting for a miracle.
Here’s the secret. We are the miracle. We are the last best hope for mankind, the crown of creation. While we have the capacity for great cruelty and stupidity, we also have an even larger capacity for great acts of compassion and kindness. It is within each and every one of us to capture the spirit and innocence of the young Christ Child, to bring His love and compassion to our fellow man - to sing with the voice of an angel, and to bring light to an ever-darkening world.