"There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul." 1
These beautiful words were penned by the famous French author, Victor Hugo. They are worthy of some contemplation. That should not surprise us, as Victor Hugo's works changed the literary and political climate of his time in France and elsewhere in the late 1800s. One of his novels, Les Misérables is known as one of the greatest novels of the 19th century and enjoys acclaim in its many adaptations still today. Hugo's theme involves one of evil to good, nothingness to God. 2 One of the reasons that this novel has held its place in history is that it describes this universal theme of the basis of human nature. Why is it that some people are continually grateful, regardless of their dire or painful circumstances, and other people complain and criticize, even in the face of abundant blessings?
I do not have the answer, although this theme has been on my mind quite a lot lately. It is my pleasure to attend a Bible Study each winter on Wednesday evenings. It is led by our pastor, Dr. Kirt Anderson, who is quite a remarkable person and an excellent teacher. This season, we studied the life, struggles and victories of Joseph, which are depicted in the Book of Genesis in the Bible. (This story also became a famous musical called, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. 3) In our discussions, Dr. Anderson mentioned the fact that there are people who always see the negative regardless of the situation. He mentioned that he believes that much of that negativity is driven by a sense of guilt and that it is through our relationship with God that we can be freed from this guilt. As the story unfolds with Joseph and his many-colored coat, his brothers, who had been so cruel to him and had sold him into slavery, were almost undone by their own guilt. Joseph's forgiveness and kindness to them unfold and tell us another story of redemption.
We seem to spend a lot of fruitless time thinking about and worrying about what we will wear, how we look, how we will be perceived, how much money we can make, and yet, the stories abound in acclaimed works, such as these, that a look into our own souls and into the face of God may hold the answer to life.
1Victor Hugo, 1802 - 1885.
2Taken from Les Misérables, a French historical novel by Victor Hugo.
3Musical with lyrics by Playwright, Tim Rice, and music by Composer, Andrew Andrew Lloyd Webber.
By Marti Starkey