Sorrow Magnifies Beauty

Since last April I’ve known traditional Christmas carols could be a grief trigger. One from my playlist randomly played while I was driving. When that wave of grief hit I sat crying in a parking lot until I realized I could have simply forwarded to the next song, making it possible to stave off the tears and keep driving.

Still, I arrived to an Advent Concert unprepared to be engulfed in grief. Both the environment and the harmonies were glorious. I especially enjoyed hearing some Appalachian carols for the first time. Something about the tones and harmonies moved me deeply.

But it was the congregational singing of familiar carols that did me in: Silent Night, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Away in a Manger and Oh Come All Ye Faithful. These carols are laden with innumerable memories and I’d hoped our family would sing them together again someday, all of us.

This side of Heaven there will be no more all of us.

Evan, born on December 11th, was Baby Jesus in the manger for his first Christmas. That memory is seared into my soul. As beautiful as it was then, it has become infinitely more so now, this first December of his absence.

Sorrow magnifies beauty, it seems. A magnifying glass intensifies the light from the sun enough to ignite a flame. Sorrow inflames beauty, not igniting a fire, but oozing hot tears.

So now I weep at the sight of Michelangelo’s Pieta, the rich red velvet of an exquisitely formed rose, and the familiar melodies of Christmas carols fervently intoned.

Yet it was our pain that he bore,

our sufferings he endured.

Isaiah 53:4

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