On the night of our first official snow storm in Boston this past weekend, my husband and I ventured out to see the new film adaptation of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the theater at the end of the film.
Set in 19th century France, the story is about redemption, love, law, revolution–and ultimately the saving grace of God. A timeless message as we enter 2013.
With the vast majority of the lines delivered in song and sung live by the actors, the lead character in Victor Hugo’s 1832 novel, Jean Valjean (played by Hugh Jackman) implores:
“God on high, hear my prayer, in my need you have always been there…Bring him home, bring him home.”
It’s perhaps one of the most moving lines in musical theater songbooks.
My favorite rendition of “Bring Him Home” is by English tenor Alfie Boe, although Jackman delivers an emotionally riveting version on screen. For those unfamiliar with the song, you can watch Alfie Boe’s version here:
Valjean is labeled by his past after being imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving family. Even when he’s released from prison after 19 long years, he’s a number more than a name, haunted and relentlessly pursued by Javert, the prison guard turned police inspector. Yet through a new life of love and forgiveness Valjean finds his way forward, with both hope and redemption marking his path.
How many of us feel chained by an unfair sentence, released and yet never truly free? It’s a familiar refrain with addictions, where people are labeled as alcoholics, smokers, etc. long after the habit has been kicked. But rather than feeling endlessly pursued by these labels, isn’t it possible to leave them behind for good and accept innocence as a permanent part of one’s identity?
The real home-coming is in recognizing our ability to love ourselves and others without conditions and without the labels that would weigh us down. This is an answered prayer, an echo of the Psalmist’s affirmation that answers Valjean’s request:
” . . . God has heard me; He has given heed to the voice of my prayer” (Psalms 66: 19).
With the hope of answered prayer and the trust of rejecting what isn’t good and accepting only what is good in my life, I enter this new year.
What about you?
To read/share an expanded version of this blog go to Framingham Patch