We can, actually, offer a little bit of light in the darkness.

Two Christmases ago was really dark at our hospital. We were in what we thought was the middle of the pandemic. One of our units of 30 or so beds was in brand new space on the top floor of a new wing that opened in August 2020. And the nurses on that floor, which was a step down from ICU, were having a rough time. “We weren’t trained to be hospice nurses,” one said. Because that’s what was happening.

One Wednesday night, probably two weeks before Christmas, I walked out of the building about 11pm after a shift. I looked up at that floor, knowing the stories that were being lived up there. And there was a Christmas tree in the window.

I laughed. And cried. In the middle of the darkness, there was some light.

A couple months later, I learned why there was a tree. One of the nurse leads for that floor had broken her ankle and was off work. She felt bad that she couldn’t be there, that her coworkers were showing up and caring and struggling. So she took a tree and decorations up and put them in that window at the end of the hall. And put their names on the balls hanging on the tree.

In her weakness, she did what she could. It gave encouragement to her coworkers. It was a light in the darkness at the top corner of the building. And it gave some courage to a chaplain.

We have the opportunity to offer the tiniest bits of support for others, not knowing the conversations that God is having with them, not knowing what our light will do for them.

This weekend we celebrate Christmas. Some of us work for parts of the weekend, some of us wish we could. Many of us are wondering whether we’ve done enough with gifts and celebrations and arrangements.

I invite all of us to release measuring up. Instead, let’s offer the tiniest bits of support: “Thank you.” “I’m here.” “I’m sorry.” “I bet this is hard.” “I’m so glad I get to see you/hear you/touch you/know you.”