The passage below is from Mark Helprin’s new novel In Sunlight and in Shadow, a book remarkable for its depth and poetic language.

As I listened to Dennis Prager discussing the Connecticut shooting, this moment in the book came to mind. The man speaking is reflecting on the loss of his family to the Holocaust.

“Souls,” he said, “like rays of light exist in perfect, parallel equality, always. But when for an infinitely short time they pass through the rough and delaying mechanism of life, they separate and disentangle, encountering different obstacles, traveling at different rates, like light refracted by the friction of things in its path. Emerging on the other side, they run together once more, in perfection.

“For the short and difficult span when confounded by matter and time they are made unequal, they try to bind together as they always were and eventually will be. The impulse to do so is love. The extent to which they succeed is called justice. And the energy lost in the effort is called sacrifice. On the infinite scale of things, this life is to a spark what a spark is to all the time man can imagine, but still, like a sudden rapids or a bend in the river, it is that to which the eye of God may be drawn from time to time out of interest in happenstance.”