A baby has been born. His mother holds him close, cradling him at her chest. She is sore and worn from her hours of laboring, but as she looks upon this beautiful, perfect boy, as she caresses his smooth, pink little body and teases his matted hair, there is light in her eyes and the whisper of a song on her lips. His father is lost in something like astonishment. It was all the old feelings which had flooded over him – it was happiness, relief, pride, love; but in the moment he first took his son into his arms, he wondered of those feelings he thought he knew whether he had ever truly felt them before. The child’s father and mother are in a trance, are mesmerized by his contented gurgles and the gentle curling of his teensy fingers. They are spellbound by every slight crinkle of his nose and scrunch of his brow, by these tells and signs of the personality they are sure he already has. And already, too, the faintest of family resemblances has been discerned: he has her eyes. Generations past are invoked – the grandmothers and patriarchs who have gone the way of all flesh, but who would have gloried in this child and bent low to behold him and bless him with their coos and squeezes and kisses, and who would have worshipped his toes. A baby has been born, and the two of them, his parents, their lives have been touched by what can only be called the miraculous. Words fail them. There is no describing the measure of their gladness or the depth of their gratitude. Only weeping and prayers and laughter will do. It is a mild winter’s midnight in Bethlehem and a baby has been born, but it could have been anywhere.
It could have been the hospital across town, where the long months of hoping and fretting and hungering after pickles with peanut butter draw to their close, and the pain and birth pangs subside, and the nurse for whom this never gets old shouts her congratulations above the howling and the din. It could have been any parents in any age in any place, blinking back tears and with trembling, unpracticed baby voices, venturing their first hellos. And it could have been any child, reddish and wet and haloed, shining and holy, delivered into the embrace of its mother. The scriptures say that angels are singing over Bethlehem, say that you can see them swooping low, winging in from beyond the stars, pouring forth from the darkness in waterfalls of feather and light; and the scriptures say that you can hear them, can hear their melodies of unearthly beauty, hear the music of yonder heaven, sounding off the hills and echoing in the plains as the whole world is played like it were a harp. The scriptures say that angels soar and circle and sing above Bethlehem, but there are always angels. There are always angels. At the hospital across town or wherever it is that we who are mortal awaken to a joy inexplicably and startlingly pure, a joy that gestures beyond itself, a joy that humbles and chastens us by casting the lives we have been living in a paler light, a joy that we can scarcely believe ourselves to be worthy vessels of – wherever it is that we who are mortal should be touched by what can only be called the miraculous, wherever it is that words fail us and there is no describing the measure of our gladness or the depth of our gratitude and only weeping and prayers and laughter will do, there are always angels. A baby has been born in Bethlehem and the sky itself is a symphony, with stars and angels singing for joy, as they always sing, as they always sing when human lives are at their most luminous, when our souls shine through, when we are so incandescently happy that the universe, that God on high, would be remiss not to share in our delight. There are always angels.