The Meaning of Life

Last week, Christian shared with me his overarching parental concern for Julianna: that her life will have meaning—that she will be able to take pride, and find fulfillment, in it. I was astonished. All I could think of was the way people react to her everywhere she goes. How could he even worry about that, when it’s so clear every day that she’s already touching lives?


Then I realized that I’m the one that takes her everywhere. Christian never gets to see how complete strangers react to her. Virtually every time we go out, at least one person stops to comment on how beautiful, how sweet, my daughter is. Poor Alex, as adorable as he is, hardly gets a look anymore. For a long time, I chalked it up to the “baby” factor, but in the last few months I’ve come to believe that it is part of her unique giftedness. When Alex was little, people would smile as we passed; sometimes they’d say, “Cute baby.” Occasionally they’d pause long enough to ask how old he was.


But when people see Julianna, they stop, they turn their shopping carts around, they engage in conversation. They stare at her—not an unkind, rude stare, but the hungry stare of people confronted by something so beautiful that it has to be acknowledged, like a rainbow in the morning. It’s not just that she’s a beautiful child, although she is. I think it’s a natural reaction to the discovery of beauty in a place where the overarching culture, in its focus on Stuff, Sex, and Svelte, has failed to recognize it.


I have no fear that Julianna will feel her life is lacking. She’ll find her place in the world, and take joy and pride in it. It might not be a place that the rest of us would be satisfied with, but who’s to say that writing a bestselling book is better than making someone smile?