Thursday, January 3, 2013

Les Mis

The college I attended offered a 4-week session during each January called J-term. For many, it was simply an extra 4 weeks of winter vacation to relax and prepare for the spring semester. I took classes only one January but wished each and every year I was a student there that I could've taken the course that involved a 2-week trip to London.  The expense was always greater than I could afford but I had friends who went and allowed me to experience the trip vicariously through them; they brought me pictures and souvenirs; shared tales of their adventures and even made a couple of phone calls to tell me that they wished I were there, etc.

There was always one facet of that trip that I sorely wished to experience that couldn't be captured in pictures or souvenirs or phone calls: seeing performed, live theatre, main-stage popular musicals and the amazing artistic craft of the professional stage. Les Miserables was running in London, then, probably every year my friends went. I remember how wonderful the descriptions of the artistry of that musical: the costumes, the music, the set, the performances--all done professionally and as perfectly as theatre can get. Young men who prided themselves on being unemotional and unaffected by such things as theatre would tell tales of sitting in a dark auditorium, openly weeping during the brilliant execution of Les Mis. "It was moving," they'd say, "so very good!"

Time passed, I finished college and moved on with my life. There was never regret, per se, that I didn't get to go to London on one of those trips but more, a hope that someday I would get to go--a longing that I tucked away and still keep.

This December just past, the newest cinematic version of Les Miserables was released.  There have been others and I've never really had an interest in watching any of them. Somehow, there just seemed a lackluster quality to what I knew to be the spectacular onstage version. But this new one...this one was to be different. It was filmed in such a way that all the actors sang the dialogue in real time as the camera's rolled. And all the A-list actors who participated in the film actually sang. There was to be, built into the film, a theatricality that gave the movie that magical, live, onstage feel.

And today, I got to experience it and it was like my longed-for trip to London was fully realized. I may be a hopeless romantic and occasionally see things ideally rather than realistically, sometimes to the detriment of a proper perspective, but I allowed myself this joy. Like London in January, it was cold this morning--8 degrees--with snow still blanketing the ground. And we were bundled up in coats and scarves and hats and it was a special event...special because my husband woke up at 7 am to go with me to drop our Kiddo off at school and then treat me to this visual spectacle.

And as I sat in the dark and wept at all the right parts, I also found myself weeping for a different reason at other, less obvious parts. And because the themes of mercy and compassion and love and grace and justice were so obvious, I couldn't help but see God right there in the middle of Les Mis.  And I wept when Jean val Jean suddenly grasped that he'd been offered grace for the first time in his life and how it changed him and opened his heart to accept the grace that God offers. And I wept when mercy did not soften a heart made hard by years of mercilessness and Javert saw the only way out was at the bottom of a bridge. And I wept when desperation drove Fantine to sacrifice her pride and her honor to save her child and how, again, compassion and grace, while it didn't save her life, saved her child's and allowed her a peaceful death.

It dawned on me, as I watched, that I am--we are--all of these characters! I have been offered an undeserved grace and mercy; I've been given compassion of which I am unworthy.  This shone out glaring watching Jean val Jean, for the love of his child, carry her fiancĂ© through deep, dark, stinking sewers of refuse; of excrement, to bring him to safety. And to fathom that this is what Jesus did for me caused me to weep all the more.

I am infected and impure with sin. All my "righteous acts" are like filthy rags. And He left his righteous, unimaginably pure throne to wade through my muck--not wade, but swim, swallow, saturate Himself--so that I could be made clean. Overwhelming. Humbling.

Experiencing God has been on my mind and heart lately. I am preparing for spring Bible study and I find it in my preparation. I am beginning a journey that may lead to teaching others and asking this question of myself is the first necessity on that journey to impacting others--have I, am I, will I continue to experience God? To experience heart-change that He's begun? Through His Word? Through open and continuous conversation with Him? Through searching for Him in my day-to-day? Through thanking Him for every blessing He's put in my life?

Today, the answer is yes. YES. Oh, Father God, YES! I experienced You this morning! You gave me such a blessing--a multi-faceted blessing: a wonderful spouse who made a sacrifice to allow me to enjoy what I enjoy, a movie that was made and through it I tasted a morsel of what I missed out on in college, and the lessons that You teach me over and over and over...the ones that I cling to because they are what matters in this life! The heart of the law is mercy--You, Father are mercy! It is by grace I am saved--not my filthy rag-works! It is a gift! You have compassion on whom you have compassion--and You have compassion on me! You are a God of justice! This day, Jesus, I give you my thanks. I have so much to be thankful for!

And so it is with heart full of happiness that I will continue on my day, looking for God in my every step. Finding Him there, too, because He's in my heart. Thank you Jesus for Grace. For Mercy. For Compassion. And for a day like today when they blaze in my heart and give me a passion for You!

1 comment:

  1. A great response to the film. I saw it twice over the holidays. Couldn't help but notice visual allusions to the Passion--at the beginning, Valjean carrying the flag and mast was clearly a "cross-bearing"; and you'll notice that during "Drink With Me," the boys at the barricade are passing around bread and wine, partaking in the "last communion" Marius later sings about. Too cool.