I must be one of a select few that has never witnessed or watched the whole of Les Miserables until the day after Christmas this week in a warm, packed movie theater in Western N.Y. sitting in between a very good friend and her sister-in-law at the top row of a stadium style, modern theater.
I was struck by the scene where Jean Valjean was brought back to the church where he stole the silver from, head bloodied by the policeman’s baton, looking haggard and unsure of his fate.
The policeman says to the priest, who approaches them in his nightgown and night cap, something along the lines of, “This man stole your silver. He even had the nerve to say that you gave it to him.”
The priest looks at Jean Valjean, who looks immersed in shame and fear at this point, and then at the police officer and says something like, “He was right. I did give it to him.”
Jean Valjean looks astonished as do the policemen with incredulous expressions on their faces. They did not believe him and protested.
The priest replies that he did in fact give him the silver, “But you forgot these,” he says as he walks over to the two large, ornate, silver candelabra’s on the table, “two of the most important pieces,” as he takes them off the table and hands them to Jean Valjean.
Jean Valjean look totally confused and surprised.
The priest says something like, “Put them to good use,” calling him “brother” and then holds his right hand above the left side of Jean Valjean’s forehead and blesses him.
I was touched by the grace the priest offered Jean Valjean in that moment.
Forgiveness was the first word that stood out from the scene described above.
Grace, Generosity, Love, are all words that surface for me when I think back on witnessing that scene.
I was touched by the forgiveness the priest offered Jean Valjean in that moment.
I was touched by the grace he stood in order to be a source of pure possibility for Jean Valjean.
I was struck with the priest’s fearlessness and courage inviting Jean Valjean into his church and offering him food and shelter not knowing the true nature of Jean Valjean.
And then in the Grace he offered Jean Valjean when he was returned with all of the silver. And the selflessness. It was not about him, the priest, it was about the possibilities that Jean Valjean offered to life and what if he was given a true chance, what could he be to life?
How does this strike you?
Where do you experience grace in your life? Is there a moment when someone offered you incredible grace, or you offered it to yourself?
How can you show up as fearlessness and courage with Faith in one hand and Love and Forgiveness in the other to allow yourself, ourselves, an opportunity for something else to show up, something more attuned with life’s greater goodness? A possibility for pure peace and grace to heal all wounds and provide that yellow brick road for us to follow to our own truths, wisdom and greatest contributions to serve all?
With love, inner space and peace, Sarah