At this time of year, we Christians begin thinking about the shining of the Light in the darkness. The Lord Jesus will soon be born in our festal calendar, and He is lauded in our hymns as the Sun of Righteousness, the Orient from on high Whose coming at this moment begins to enlighten the nations. And this lines up poetically quite beautifully with what is happening astronomically—the days are getting shorter and shorter, and just around the time of our great feast, the switch occurs, and darkness begins to recede, and light begins to expand.
This evening, I am remembering a darkness that we experienced in our family seven years ago. It was on this day, December 5, 2009, that my pregnant wife Nicole went into labor in the early hours of the morning.
We were still new in the Lehigh Valley, having arrived only in July, my wife then four months pregnant. We were new to the area, new to the parish, new to having more than one child. And although this was our second child coming, he was really our third, for we had lost another much earlier in the year to an early miscarriage.
The labor was long and exhausting. There was a lot about the process that was confusing and distressing. We had prepared for a home birth, but it wasn’t happening as we’d hoped.
The evening approached, and a heavy, wet snow began to fall. It had been about twenty hours by that point.
Finally, about a half hour to midnight, we got in the car and left for the hospital. In the late night silence of the streets in a heavy falling snow, I took her to a hospital that should have been only ten minutes away but because of the road conditions took twice as long to get there.
We arrived. I took her into the ER lobby. They were calmly asking for her information. They didn’t seem to want it from me. Why? No way to understand.
They got her into a room, and twenty minutes after we arrived there, just after midnight, our Elias was born—our second child and first son.
And we had our Elias. Just after midnight, a light began to shine in the darkness.
My wife spent a couple days in the hospital with our baby boy. I remember after those days were done bringing our little Evangelia to the hospital to pick them both up. She was almost three. My wife brought Elias down to the lobby, and I said, “Evangelia, this is your brother!” The ladies at the reception desk watching us were sniffling and tearing up.
In the seven years since that night, Elias has grown into a thoughtful, earnest, committed young man. It is hard to believe that when he wakes up in the morning, he will be seven years old. He feels things deeply and has a sense of melancholy that often seems far too pronounced for a boy his age. This was said of me at times, as well. My mother told me that she worried about me, that I often seemed inexplicably depressed when I was a young boy.
But my hope is that our firstborn son’s too easy sadness will gradually mature into a perceptive sensitivity to the darkness of the world, a darkness that needs his light, a light given to him by Jesus Christ. I pray that his earnestness will become a slow, steady burning flame within him that sheds the light of truth on whatever thoughts enter his soul.
With each of my children at their birth, I blessed them and prayed that God would give them His own special blessing, that they would be for Him emissaries of the Light, that the Lord would lift up His countenance upon them, give them peace and make them a gift of peace. Today I pray this again for Elias.
And in just a few months I will pray it again for our third son.