We saw Les Mis on Broadway 11 years ago, and it became my very favorite musical. While it impacted me then because of the powerful themes of unconditional love and redemption, grace vs. works, justice vs. forgiveness, and more, it hit me in new ways now because of all I've been through and how much more I could relate with the characters of Fontine and Jean Valjean!
When Fontine is dying in the hospital, she is lying on her bed and singing a song to Cosette who is not there. She is obviously hallucinating and the nurse and Jean Valjean know that she doesn't have long to live. Before, I just thought this was just a technique to show she's losing it and is about to die, but now I realize how accurate that portrayal is of someone whose body is shutting down. The very thing happened to me as I read over my blog and learn about what happened while I was "losing it" There was a time I was comatose, for lack of a better word, and just last week did I read up on what had happened. My liver had failed, my kidneys had failed, and the ammonia buildup in the bloodstream affects the brain, causing you to hallucinate. Like Fontine, I also "saw" my children and reached out to them and other "visitors" I thought I could see in the hall, crying because they were passing by without stopping or responding. By the way, there wasn't even a window in the door or the room so obviously I was hallucinating...but it was SO real, absolutely clearly real! So when I saw Fontine behaving just as I had been just a few months ago (!) I found myself bawling because of how thankful I am to be here, alive, watching my very favorite musical so relativey soon after my trauma. By the way, I didn't sing any songs on my deathbed, just the hallucinating part, ha...
Another moment for me happened at the end when Jean Valjean is at the end of his life. After all the good he'd done, saving and protecting Cosette and raising her "to the light," and showing the same unconditional love and grace he'd been shown to the officer who sought him his whole life when he could have killed him, and saving Maris anonymously to bring him to Cosette, we find that he still has not forgiven himself. Maris figures out that J.Valjean was the one to save him and calls him a saint for doing so, while Jean Valjean cries as if it is not true. I think we all go through that from time to time (especially if we've ever been through a life-altering experience). Going through leukemia and the harsh experience of a stem-cell transplant, close to dying a few times, and blogging about it, causes others to look at you like you are special...I mean, I would receive cards and emails daily that spoke so highly of me that it was painfully touching...I would cry as intensely as Jean Valjean was in that scene, "No, no, no, it's not true, I've done terrible things, I'm very selfish, I don't deserve this!" These emotions can be very powerful, but it's an itneresting dichotomy. Yes, you can do wonderful things in the Spirit when you abide in Him, but at the same time your fleshy desires fight within you like pride - the desire to be first, to be best, to be perfect, etc...for some the sin might be more overt or more hidden like lust, lying, gossip or addiction. Even if you don't commit overt sins, the temptations are still there which can be all Satan needs to bring you down emotionally. If he can cripple you in the mind, making you ineffective for the kingdom of God, you can bet he'll try to do it any chance gets. That's why it is so important to be in His Word, the Bible, praying to God unceasingly, and fellowshipping with others who would encourage you in the Lord.
There is so much more I could say about this story. If you haven't seen it I highly recommend it next time it is playing in town. If you are local, it will be at Solvang Theaterfest through mid-July. Tickets are still available.
Galatians 5:13-18 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.