Bristol Pilgrimage

Last year, I went on a Pilgrimage to England over the summer. This pilgrimage was the best part of the summer. Our church choir was invited to sing at the Bristol Cathedral. The trip allowed us to go to castles, multiple church services, and spiritual places such as Stonehenge and Tintern Abbey.

My family decided to go to England two days early in order to enjoy more of London. During those two days, the best part of the trip happened, which connected to the spiritual world of the pilgrimage. The best part was seeing the West End production of Les Misérables with my mom. I had seen the stage show three times already, but I had never seen it professionally. It was a dream come true and I knew it was becoming a reality once the lights went off and the music began. Just through the first couple of notes, I knew it was more than I originally excepted. The London production was the most epic powerful emotionally felt experience I ever had with the musical. The emotions were spot on that night and the cast was brilliant. Most of the leads had only been in the cast for about one month when I saw them. I also had an understudy for Jean Valjean, the protagonist of the show. During this production, I finally felt something for Javert, which I thought would never happen because I do not like the character. The show’s plot is story of compassion, forgiveness, sacrifice, humanity, hope, and redemption, which is why the show is so inspirational. I also got the chance to meet the actor who played Vajean and I got my picture taken with him and he signed my playbill. Another thing that made this experience special was that I got to fulfill my dream in the middle of the show’s 30th year.

The day after the show was when the group finally met up. The first thing the group did was visiting Windsor Castle. In all, I saw three castles and the most spiritual one was Chepstow Castle. Each castle brought something special to the pilgrimage. At Windsor, I saw the changing of the guards, which made me feel like a kid again. At Berkley Castle, I dressed up with one of the chorister students. At Chepstow Castle, I saw areas which reminded me of stained glass and I saw areas which looked like crosses.

In total, I went to ten church services. Most of them were at Bristol Cathedral and those were the most special, but it was still enjoyable when we went to services at Westminster, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Salisbury Cathedral. The reason why seeing the services at Bristol Cathedral was the most special was because my church choir was singing and their songs were gorgeous. The best one was at the very last evensong and when the solos began, I was speechless.

I also loved visiting Tintern Abbey. At first, I did not think there would be anything interesting about the ruins of an old Abbey. But I learned to love it quickly. Exploring it was spiritual to me because at one point, I saw a dove in a corner and I associate a dove with a story in the bible. Both Tintern and Chepstow are in Wales, England.

The big “mountan-top” moment of the show was Stonehenge. I still cannot believe I actually saw that famous place. I quickly noticed how sacred it was. The place was very windy and the windy I felt made me say that the wind was God’s energy passing through me. The clouds also reflected how transforming it is. As you walk around, each view is very different.

It was also the smaller memories that made the trip matter. One of them was hunting for Shaun the Sheep in Bristol. One of the early memories was getting my picture taken at platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross Station. Going to Bath was not a huge favorite part of the trip, but it was more than I thought, but added to the meaning.

Overall, I think that the best part of the pilgrimage was the fellowship among everyone. That was a huge reason why everything was spiritual. The bond the group created was special. It made each memory worth it and made England the best part of the summer. Without the bond, the trip would not have been as spiritual and meaningful. This trip had make me more spiritually strong. I am so glad I got to go on this trip. In total, there were 72 people on the trip.

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Christianity of Narnia

One of my favorite movie series is “The Chronicles of Narnia”. One of the things I love about them is how Christian they are. Each of them has things that represent Christ. I ended up watching “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe last night and that is where I know what the Christian elements are.

I see Aslan as Christ because that is who he is. He has the power to destroy the white witch and loves unconditionally. Aslan died to save Edmund just like Christ died to save us from our sins. Aslan also died a violent death which is similar to Christ’s. Just like Jesus, Aslan rose again.

The White Witch is very similar to Satan. She wanted to stop the prophecy from coming true and to do that she wanted to kill Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. She first tried to do that by tempting Edmund when she first met him. She had him sit with her under a warm coat and gave him something to eat and drink. She than pointed out where her house is. She was very manipulative, which made Edmund believe she was the good guy. Later Edmund actually walked to the white witch’s house and doing that made him bait. The siblings realized what he had done and why the white witch wanted all four of them. Edmund was captured by the white witch and he realized that she was really the bad guy. Edmund saw how she was turning animals into stone. The white witch left Narnia in an eternal snow and wanted to rule Narnia forever.

There is a deep magic that is always talked about in this movie. I think the deep magic is love. Love has the power to heal and makes humans feel connected. Because of Christ’s love for us, he is always able to forgive us for our sins. Love encourages humans to do the right thing and makes us compassionate towards the needs of others. Another sign of Christianity in the movie is the lamppost. For the longest time, I did not know what it meant. I think the lamppost represents the light of Christ. The light of Christ can give us hope in the darkest of times and also in the lightest of times. Also the wardrobe was inscribed with the tree of knowledge.

Winterlight Meaning

Five years ago, I attended my very first Winterlight. At that time, I was in 11th grade. For those that do not know, Winterlight is a high school youth conference at Kanuga, an Episcopalian Conference Center in Hendersonville, NC. Winterlight was one of the most important times of my life and one of the best parts about high school. In all, I attended two Winterlights.

The first time I went, I did not know fully what to except, but I had an idea. I knew about all the singing because of the Winterlight 24 CD that my family owns. I knew there was a service project and a banquet on New Years Eve. That was all that I knew. At that Winterlight, I made a tiny amount of friends because I only had one roommate because Louisiana was snowed out. My roommate was not the only friend I made that year. During the first program, I made other friends and for one week, I was close friends with two people. I also discovered my favorite Christian song, “Prince of Peace”, and the moment I started singing it, I knew the song was something special. I loved all of the energy put into the songs because we would clap at high energy songs and put arms around each other during the slower songs. I also attended a concert and talent show. One of the funny things I remember at this Winterlight was all of the dorky dances that we did and that was one of the best parts. I spent a lot of time with my small group. The service project of this Winterlight was making blankets with migrant farm workers and I did this project with my small group.I remembered that we honored the blankets at our New Years Eve church service and we also honored the seniors because it was their last Winterlight. A highlight about the the New Years’ Eve Dance was that we sang along to the songs such as “Don’t Stop Believing”

My second Winterlight was very different than the first, but so similar.At this Winterlight, I made more friends than my first. My cottage had more people and my small group had a stronger bond. I ended up with seven roommates that year. I prepared to be part of the Talent Show because I knew that there would be one. I think this concert was different than the first because during parts of it, we sang along. The service project this year was Stop Hunger Now and it was treated as a competition. We packed about 20,000 meals that day. This Winterlight was more emotional for me because it was my last. The seniors ended up being honored through a candlelight service at the New Years Eve dance and I cried as we sang the last song, but at least I got to attend two wonderful Winterlights.

The reason why Winterlight meant a lot to me because it helped shape my spirituality. I ended up developing a mini obsession because of the event. That was all I could think and talk about for two years. It turned my interest of Christian music into a love. There was something extra special about being around high school students at that event. Winterlight was a nice break from all of the stress that high school creates. I still am really close friends with one of my Winterlight friends, and we still have the special connection we had when the two of us first met. Listening to the songs that I sang during Winterlight are very special to me. I decided to write this post now because it is that time of year when Winterlight happens. I went from December 27th-January 1st and I feel like Winterlight was the best part about high school.

“The Impossible Dream”

“To dream the impossible dream, to fight the unbeatable foe, to bear with unbearable sorrow, to run where the brave dare not go”

Those above lyrics are from the song, “The Impossible Dream”, which is from  the musical, “Man of La Mancha”. For a Spanish project, I had to research the character and book, Don Quixote. Don Quixote is an interesting character because he is both tragic and comic, and that is the first time I found a literary character who is like that. The musical, “Man of La Mancha” is based off of the book, Don Quixote.

The musical is basically a show within a show. I saw the movie version of the musical last night. It starts with Miguel de Cervantes being arrested and in the dungeon, he arranges for the other prisoners to take part in a show, which is based off his book, Don Quixote. Miguel de Cervantes ended up playing the part of Don Quixote. He was an incredible Don Quixote because he truly acted like a knight errant. On Don Quixote’s deathbed, I almost cried. The actor who played Don Quixote’s squire was also lovely and always was there for his master. The actress who played Aldonza was also amazing.

One of the confusing parts about “Man of La Mancha” is that there are two beginnings and two endings. That is mainly because it is a story within a story. The first beginning starts when Cervantes and his assistant are putting together a show. The second beginning is when Cervantes starts describing who Don Quixote is. The first ending is when Don Quixote dies and the second ending is when Cervantes leaves the dungeon.

The sets were lovely, which convinced me that it was Spain. It also had a good collection of songs. Some of the songs stood out more than the others, which included the best song, “The Impossible Dream”. After seeing the movie, the musical ended up being meaningful to me because the character of Don Quixote already meant something to  me. He fascinates me because of his comic and tragic nature. There is a huge difference between tragic and comic elements coming together separately versus the two elements coming together in one character.

Walking in the Light

What does it mean to walk in the light? This was talked about during a sermon at my college’s student-led worship service. I found that to be an interesting question. It could mean a number of things.

In my opinion, walking in the light means living life through the compassion and love of Christ. If you live with Christ, you life will be much easier. He can help you get through rough times because when you feel his presence, he will let you know that everything will be okay. I find ways to feel Christ’s presence. My two main ways is through Christian music and nature.

Walking in the light also means to have a positive outlook on life. Having that outlook can help you have a successful life. It can help you survive tests and big papers and I know that because I am a college student. Having that outlook also helps you get through rough times. If you have a feeling that there will be hope, it shows you that everything will be okay. If you think positive, you will be able to enjoy life more because it allows you to live in the moment. If you end up having a negative outlook on life, it will be harder to enjoy life or get out of a rough situation.

But, why is it important to walk in the light. First of all, God loves you and he wants you to be happy. God loves everyone no matter what and does not judge. His compassion and love for us is very strong and if you live life according to him, you will have a very full and inspiring life. Second, we love each other and that allows us to be compassionate towards other. That is part of why we must love our enemies no matter what. We are meant to show love and compassion toward each other, which is truly what humanity is about. Third, we care about what happens in the world. We get upset when something bad happens and that is usually when humans show their love the most. When something tragic happens, humans usually come together and help heal those deeply affected.


Musicals of 2015


(Could be spoilers)

During the course of this year, I saw four different musicals. I saw one at Gardner Webb University, two in Charlotte, and one in the West End. This entry will compare and contrast these four musicals, which includes what my experience was like. The musicals that I saw are shown in the picture in order of importance. From left to right, it builds up to the show that has the most meaning, which was the best show

The thing that is incredible about “Music Man”, “Pippin”, “Sound of Music” and “Les Misérables” is what they are capable of. Together they show a lot of which a musical can do. They all share some emotions, but some of the shows have more emotions than another. Combined, they have lots of comic and tragic elements especially because three are in the comedy world and one is in the tragedy world. Two of these musicals both have a connection to spirituality. In the rest of this post, I will talk about the similarities and differences more in detail.

The first musical of the year, “Music Man” was the most light-hearted out of all of them. It was the only one that had no darkness or tragic elements. It consists mostly of positive emotions and does not really have negative emotions. I saw this show at my college and it was my first experience with it. I was familiar with most of the songs and knew a little bit about the storyline, but never seen the movie or the stage show. Because I was required to go, I had to pay attention to one of the characters and see if I believed in the character. I picked the main character, Harlod Hill, for a reason and that is because I knew a couple of things about the character like that he is a con-man who promised to create a boy’s band and will eventually fall in love with Marian. My favorite song of the show ended up being “76 Trombones”. I ended up loving the show that I eventually bought the songs.In my opinion, the core of this musical is music, I think.

The next important show, “Pippin”, was the second show of the year. Every since I heard the song, “Corner of the Sky”, I knew that I had to see this musical. Than I saw a preview of the current production and I got convinced even more. I saw that it had a circus theme and that surprised me at first. I knew that musicals were capable of spectacle, but I thought circus would never be an option. Than after I found out that Stephen Schwartz wrote the music, I got even more excited. I already had fallen in love with “Godspell” and “Wicked” and he wrote the music for those two as well and “Wicked” is the best of those two. I knew that Pippin was about a prince who was trying to figure out where he belong or his “Corner of the Sky”, which is what the song is about. This show was lucky because I almost did not get to go because when mom got the tickets, there was only two days left with seats together. This show was the first show I saw this year that had some sort of darkness. The leading player, the antagonist”, is a very dark and manipulative character because she is trying to lead Pippin in the wrong path meaning she was trying to get him to commit suicide and I thought that was not very nice. I had an understudy for the leading player and she was the true standout of the show.

The opening of “Pippin” was the best part. It started with an illusion because the leading player was behind a light brown curtain and as she walked it seemed as if the shadow was getting smaller and smaller and all of a sudden she appeared. Surprisingly, the Leading Player ended up being the narrator of the show. Right when the curtain dropped, I looked at the scene in awe and wonder. It truly showed how incredible this show was going to be. It really looked like I was in the circus because I saw several elements of circus such as trapeze and juggling. That whole opening scene was during the song, “Magic to Do”. This song broke the forth wall because at one point, some actors went off the stage. There was another time where I felt the forth wall was broken. During the song, “No Time At All”, Pippin’s grandma asked the audience to sing along to the chorus and they put the lyrics up and that was the first time I went to a musical which allowed that. Pippin entered the show by jumping through a hoop. During another song, “Simple Joys”, I saw people flipping over balls and during “With You”, there was an incredible balancing act. At the end, the musical ended up being at the edge of spectacular and right after the first act, I ended up buying the CD because I loved it so much already. It was worth it seeing Pippin. Pippin is the kind of show which has things that are usually associated with musicals. It is a dark comedy filled with dance, spectacle, and fun costumes. The core of this musical is discovery.

The third most important show, “Sound of Music”, was the last musical of the year. This musical has been part of my life since elementary school. I knew it was coming to Charlotte, but thought I would not see it because of Gardner Webb, but luckily it came over Thanksgiving Break. This was the third happy musical I saw this year.  I ended up crying during “Edelweiss”, which was unexpected. That song was my first piano recital song and I noticed that that song has a little bit of sadness in it. The darkness of this show feels like it is much more in the background, but during that scene, it was more foreground. I saw how upset the Captain looked after noticing that Austria was being taken over by the Nazis. The cast was incredible in this especially the Von Trapp children, Maria, Captain, and Mother Abbess. The transition from scene to scene happened so smoothly. By the end of the show, I left feeling hope because the Von Trapps were able to escape despite loving their country.

The most important and best show also had an inspirational world. That show would be “Les Mis”. I was not just seeing a production of that musical. I was seeing the West End production, which is the current production in London. It has been there since 1985 and has never left. Ever since I became obsessed with this musical, I wanted to see the show in London so badly. When I found out, I was speechless and in tears.

This musical gave me the most joy despite it being the darkest and saddest musical. But out of all them, this was the most powerful and covered with the most emotions. The moment the lights went off and the music began, I realized it was more than I originally thought despite already watching the movie several times, the stage show three times, and the 25th anniversary concert a couple of times. The show was truly brought to life through the use of the fog and the revolving stage. I had an understudy for Valjean and he was brilliant. I loved the rest of the cast as well. I felt so more emotions than I ever did with the show. Some of the emotions that I knew were in there were stronger in this production. That included some of the more inner emotions such as compassion, hope, and forgiveness. Sad was also stronger because of the power of theatre and because of my excitement of seeing the show in London.  Despite being a tragedy, it is still a story of sacrifice, humanity, hope, faith, love, compassion, forgiveness, and redemption. After the first act, I was speechless and the same thing happened after the second act. The West End production was Epic and had a brilliant cast because the emotions I felt were spot on. This show has at least ten emotions and for sure has more. I felt exciting, uplifting, funny, joy, love, passion, compassion, hope, forgiveness, anger, fear, guilt, sad, desperation, heartbreak, loneliness, devastation, and uncomfortable, and I knew I felt others, but do not know what they are.

After the show ended, I went to the stage door and met the actor who played Valjean. I ended up getting my picture taken with him and he signed my playbill. “I dreamed a dream” that night and felt fortunate to see it this year because the show was in the middle of its 30th year in London.

Now for the similarities between the musicals. “Sound of Music” and “Les Mis” are the ones that have the spiritual connection. “Sound of Music” has the connection to the abbey and has a feeling of hope at the end. Les Mis shows a spiritual connection because of its themes. The spirituality truly started when the Bishop taught Valjean the ways of the Lord. For the rest of Valjean’s life, he was able to do what the bishop taught him. He was compassionate towards the poor especially towards Fantine and his adopted daughter, Cosette. He said a prayer on the barricades to save Marius because Marius loves his adopted daughter. By the end, Valjean becomes like a saint. One of the ending lines of the show is “to love another person is to see the face of God” and I left the show uplifted.

All four of these musicals have comic elements. The comic elements come naturally to all them in different ways. Les Mis uses comedy as comic relief because it is much needed because of how sad it is. Les Mis means “the miserable” and the negative emotions start once the action begins. All four of them consist of kids because “Music Man” has Winthrop , Pippin has Theo, Les Mis has young Cosette and Gavroche and “Sound of Music” has the Von Trapp children. They all share the emotions of exciting, joy, love, and funny. They all bring me great joy in their own unique ways.

“Even the Darkest Night Will End and The Sun Will Rise”

Two days ago during the Christmas Eve service, I heard something that reminded me of these lyrics. These lyrics remind me of the phrase “those who have walked in darkness have seen a great light”, meaning that even at a dark time of your life, you will always have hope if you walk with Christ. It says that even in the darkest of times, you will be able to move past it and allows you stay strong no matter what. These lyrics are from the finale of Les Mis during the second version of “Do You Hear the People Sing”. While Les Mis is a tragedy, there are lots of lyrics that represent that the show has hope in it. Hope is a very inner emotion of the show, which takes time to find.

We live in a broken world, but if we hope for a better future, we may be able to fix it. The more love and compassion we show, the more fixed this world will become. Hate cannot drive out hate because only love can do that. Violence cannot drive out violence because only kindness can do that.