An Eternal Tale

When I was a little girl, there was a small store selling school supplies, that I used to frequent. But aside from buying school supplies, I had a secret reason for my frequent visits! You see, there in the store stood a single bookcase with a few books on it. One book in particular, mesmerized me enough to call me back to the store over and over again, just so I could stand there and look up at it! And there was only one copy of the book on the bookcase, only one copy ever! I would stand there, staring at it! I looked into the face of the little girl on the book cover, I studied how her hair was drawn onto it! I gazed into her eyes, I felt that her eyes told me the whole entire story within the book's cover! I believed that the soul of the little girl, told the story within those pages! I would gaze into her eyes, I studied the strands of her hair, I would pick up the book and run my finger over it's spine, my thumb over the thickness of its pages! The book was so thick, I thought to myself! It always just seemed to take my breath away, during every single one of my visits to the store! Until now, still I ask myself why I never bought the book! I would look forward to needing school supplies, just so I could have an excuse for going there and looking at the book, but I never did buy it! I remember how I felt, yes, I did want to buy it, but there was something so intimidating about it...was it the title? "Less Mizerabless..." I wondered what it meant... or was it the thickness? It was so thick, in my mind it felt thicker than my whole body! Or was it her eyes...was I afraid that if I opened the book, I would fall completely into her soul, possibly never to recover? I cannot be sure what it was that stopped me from buying the book, or from even just opening it! But I am sure that there was a bond created, and that reinstated itself, upon every one of my visits!

Today I watched Les Miserables in the cinema. To say that I have never cried so much in a cinema, in my life, is a gross understatement of the experience I had while watching the movie. The story Les Miserables, is magnanimous. My heart slows down a few beats when I ponder the magnanimity of the mind that created it! For someone to be able to take a step away, and turn around and look back, at life, and see life in all of it's facets, all of her faces, and be able to put all of those facets and faces into a single story? I am speechless. If Victor Hugo were living today, I would be honored to bow before him!

Les Miserables is the story of life itself, and just how difficult life can be! This relates so well to my previous post on how all of us are separated by just a hair-thin line! We could have been someone else, somewhere else, we could have been given a completely different lot in life! And I realize, I see, how everything in one's life is spelled out by where the person happens to be on this large globe, that is a map, that is drawn out with different lots and people happen to be there or here or over there or so very far away! And I am not talking about physical distance; I am talking about the place of one's life in this world, one's lot in life, what one is given! In Les Miserables, we are shown just how enormous and unbelievably incredible, the differences can be between people, just because of where they are in life! Yet at the very same time, all differences are really just separated only by a line so thin, it is like a thin strand of hair! I cried while watching Fantine go from struggling mother, to struggling prostitute! Tears rolled down my cheeks! Her life was always just a breath away from being blown away, and all too soon for her, it was! My thoughts turned to all the prostitutes in the world today, and how many of them probably have a story similar to Fantine's, how many of them are probably selling their bodies to feed their children! The love of a mother shines forth so brightly in this movie! Karl Lagerfeld once said "There is only one love that I believe in, and that is the love of a mother for her children" and I know that Karl Lagerfeld is an unlikely source to quote, but I was reminded of his words while watching the movie! We are shown the true strength and undying, relentless spirit of a mother's love for her child! And not all mothers are this way, but, this is the way of the love as it was intended by God to be, since the beginning of time! But there's so much more than that! We are also shown the love of a father for his daughter (even if she does not share his blood nor his bones); we are shown how the love of a parent can be made entirely in the heart, and be no less stronger; and even more stronger and more powerful, than the love of a biological parent for their child/children! We see this in the the eternal love of Jean Valjean for Cosette! We are put in front of the realities of the evils of oppression, and how easy it is for those with much wealth, to oppress those who have less or who have nothing! How a man who stole a loaf of bread for his dying nephew, can be treated as lower than a dog, as a shame of a person, as the outcast of God, as unrighteous, a sinner! Les Miserables shows us all, how a single act of mercy and kindness, can change the entire course of one's future, and not only that, but the entire course of many people's futures! Nevertheless, we realize, that a single act of judgment, apathy, unkindness, can too change the entire course of many people's lives, for forever! We witness how people are deformed in the hands of cruelty and oppression, in the absence of mercy and empathy! But we also witness how people are recreated and re-birthed in the hands of mercy and of grace! We taste of the bad man's interpretation of God, and we taste of the good man's interpretation of God! Both have a God, but then God has become two things so infinitely contrasting and opposite and different of one another– depending only on the hearts of the ones professing Him! It is true that we carry God within our hearts! And it is our own hearts that give Him His color!

I can see, how there are those who are shown mercy and forgiveness, and are able to in turn show mercy and forgiveness to their fellow man! But in the same breath, there are those who are shown mercy and forgiveness, but are still unable to do the same when their opportune time comes to do the same act of kindness that was once shown to them! There are those who are forgiven, yet do not know how to forgive! There are those who are born in jail, yet one day grow into their own persons and turn to look upon those in jail as scum, as dogs! There are good people, but there are more bad people! There are the courageous people who are willing to spill their own blood for the freedom of a nation, and there are cowards who think of nothing other than their own personal comfort and social status! Bravery can come from the poor and from the rich, just as cowardice can come from the poor and from the rich! There are good people amongst the bourgeoisie, and there are awful, oppressive ones! We see all too clearly, how money determines the fate of all too many people in this world! All throughout history, wealth has fallen into the hands of those with blemished hearts, into the hands of those who use it to oppress their fellow man! Just because they can! It is all too clear a fact, that money dictates life, and those without it are at the mercy of those who do have it.

In the cinema today, I was reminded of the sweetness of love between a man and a woman, how a man and a woman can fall in love at first sight, and how a woman can have a love so strong, she would actually give up her own life for the man she loves! I was reminded how there are the few who have been favoured and placed on thrones: those like Cosette! She walked a path in life that, though it was bitter to her in the beginning, turned upward and faced the sun and the roses, while all others fell by the wayside! Cosette is one of those people who live in the apple of God's eye! Everything that she once lost, was repaid to her tenfold! People gave their lives for her keeping, she was protected and sheltered from harm.

The significance of envy in this world, was put in front of my eyes, and it was very painful to behold! How a beautiful young woman, falling prey to the envious eyes of her coworkers, suffered an excruciating  fate and death as a result! It engraved upon my mind, the power that envy has, in this world! It has the power to destroy, to pull down, and what for? What did Fantine ever do to deserve her fate? She never saw her dreams come true, she fell all too soon, while those ugly women who so envied her, continued on with their lives! It is not true that all receive what they deserve, because many don't!

There are good people, there are more bad people; there is kindness and forgiveness, there is judgment and apathy; there is bravery and courage, there is cowardice and ego! Every facet of life, and not only the existence of these facets themselves; but actually how they merge and swim into one another, coming together and falling away from one another, all is written out so perfectly, so magnanimously, in Les Miserables! And what kind of a mind, what kind of a heart, can produce such a work? The heart of a magnanimous man! The mind of brilliance!

I am in awe, and now have a new favorite movie! I comprehend in my heart, why I used to stand under that bookcase as a young girl, and stare up at the novel on the shelf! It spoke to me, even without me opening its pages! And perhaps it was a prophecy, telling me that one day, I would see the things written in its pages and I would strive to do good by the things that I would come to understand, that I would see, that I would witness! Because if we do have a chance to be that goodness and that kindness, if we have it in us, we should let it shine, we should do something about it! Because if not, there is too much darkness that already exists, and it's not enough to just exist along with it! We have to make good choices, and have kindness in our hearts. Mercy, forgiveness. If we are born that way, then we have to let that light shine! I guess I was right, way back then! I guess it was premonition, when I felt that I would somehow fall into those eyes so completely, that I would never be able to recover!

Photo of Les Miserables book found on Pinterest.

2 comments:

  1. Beautiful, C. JoyBell C. I took my oldest daughter, age 13, to see Les Mis on Christmas Day. I had seen the stage performance many years prior but had forgotten - or failed to see at the time - the essence of the story. The movie brought it back home so well, so deep in the performances. I could tell it made a lasting impression and impact on my daughter, and I'm thankful to have shared that experience with her. But we also witness how people are recreated and re-birthed in the hands of mercy and of grace! I have to think that Victor Hugo would have been honored to have read your reaction and insight.

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    1. "I have to think that Victor Hugo would have been honored to have read your reaction and insight."
      – What an incredibly humbling thing to say! Thank you so much!

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