Existence of Light in Our Lives

Know what sparks the light in you.  Then use that light to illuminate the world

-Oprah Winfrey

This is such a wonderful quote. Everyone has some of kind of light living in them. Your passions do spark the light in you. Some of my light ranges from my strong spirit to my infectious personality. My two passions of helping the homeless and seeing and listening to musicals are part of the light that I have. I have wanted to help the homeless since high school after realizing that the vast majority of people in the world are living in poverty.

I grew up seeing musicals and musical movies and only loved them. I wasn’t even a musical fanatic growing up. I was basically learning what makes a musical a musical. I was able to discover the spectacle and dance, the emotional connections and the four main emotions of joy, love, excitement, and sad. It was Wicked that sparked my love due to seeing it on Broadway with my mom. Little did I know that eventually the main emotions would grow from four to five. The newest emotion on that list is heartbreak, a non-identifiable emotion up until the end of 2012. It was Les Mis that allowed me to pick up on heartbreak and due to that emotion being existent, it made discovering the negative emotions so much easier. I am a Les Mis Freak and did get to see the show in London.

The light in us is what makes us who we are. Without my love for musicals or volunteering or reading or any of my interests, I wouldn’t be who I am today. The light in us is what allows us to go forward. The light in us is what guides us throughout our journey. Even in periods of darkness, there is light hiding inside of us. One source of light is hope and even in the darkest of times, there is still hope. We need to use the light to help make a difference on the world. The light is highly important and without that, we would not be staying true to ourselves and the world will just become even darker. The light in us is what sparks our interests and as we continue to stay true to ourselves, we still grow and strengthen our source of light.

Messiness of Life

Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful

-unknown

This is so true. Life is beautiful in so many ways. Everyone goes through these rough and dark times. But those times do help us appreciate the best times in our life even more. Without those rough times, how will we know what the good times are? No one likes feeling the negative emotions or living through darkness, but they are worth it because it is part of life. Life is precious and as result, we need to make the most of every moment even in the darkest times and even when we struggle to see the light. In those dark times, it is good time to learn and try to find something good when those times strike.

A perfect life is nearly impossible. There is no way we can live a life of just light and just positive emotions. It is natural to feel hurt and is beneficial. In those dark times, just look towards the light and don’t think you are moving away from the light. Incredible memories have been part of my life and even bad memories have been part of my life. I do the best I can to live in the moment. What do we do with the short time that we have? The best way is to measure your life in love and live in the moment. The beauty of life comes from experiencing positive and negative emotions because you cannot have one without the others.

Try to learn from your past mistakes instead of running away from them. We all make mistakes. Sometimes you don’t know you made a mistake until later on in life. It is so easy to be close-minded to certain things and is surprising when you learn to love something you thought you would hate. We make mistakes to learn a lesson. I love life because it is so precious and fragile, but so worth it.

Trusting in the Lord

“God is within her, she will not fall. God will help her at break of day”

-Psalms 46:5

This quote really shows how much God is part of our lives. It shows that God will not give up. He will help us when we are broken and will help us when we are not. He lives inside of us through the Holy Spirit. Throughout college, I have found ways to help strengthen my spirituality. Every week, I attend our student-led worship service and singing those songs really enter and fill me up with the Holy Spirit. By attending weekly, I am able to develop my strong spirit and you can feel the energy from all the students singing. Sometimes I have to be reminded that God will always be a part of my life and one place I find that is through the sunsets and sunrises that I see. When there is a test, I look up to God and trust Him that I will get through them.

God is highly important to me. He  teaches us the importance of love, compassion, forgiveness, and kindness. He helps show us the light in the midst of darkness. He helps guide us so that our dreams will come true. He guides us in the midst of trouble and when we are heading in the right direction. Everyone has God-given gifts and we must use them to our advantage. We might feel broken at times, but God will always look over us.

 

Victor Hugo and Les Misérables

If the radical is the idea, yes, I am a radical…A society which admits poverty, a religion which admits hell, a humanity which sanctions war, seem to me an inferior society, an inferior religion and humanity, and it towards the higher society, the higher humanity and religion that I turn: society without a king, humanity without frontiers, religion without a book…I condemn slavery, I banish poverty, I teach ignorance, I treat disease, I lighten the night, and I hate hatred. That is what I am, and that is why I have written Les Misérables

-Victor Hugo

This a quote written by Victor Hugo, the author of the masterpieces, Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Misérables. This quote explains why Victor Hugo wrote Les Misérables. Victor Hugo lived during a very rough time period in France. It was post French Revolution and France was still recovering from the aftermath. Multiple rebellions happened, a weak government existed, women weren’t being treated fairly, and misery seemed to exist all the time. Victor Hugo noticed all of this and his book helps show just how bad France was at the time. Much of his book is based off of things that Victor Hugo observed and some characters were created off of that.

He wrote Les Mis to show light in the midst of darkness. That book is a tragedy covered with darkness but with a beautiful spirituality that helps guide the book. The heartbreaking and the inspirational natures are wonderfully interlocked together. Victor Hugo based Fantine after a prostitute he saw being harassed by an abusive customer and he intervened to prevent her from being arrested and he began to wonder if she had a child and that was how he created Fantine. He observed part of the June Rebellion of 1832 and he  included the rebellion in the book. His book shows the worst and the best of society at the time period.

The Thenardiers represent the very worst of society because of how abusive, unloving, cruel, selfish, and greedy they were and there was no redeeming factor in them. They treated their five children unfairly. Their children were Eponine, Azelma, Gavroche, and two unnamed younger brothers. They raised Eponine and Azelma and kicked out the rest of their children. They terribly abused Young Cosette during the time she lived with them, but she was rescued by Jean Valjean. They raised their daughters, Eponine and Azelma to be criminals and taught them how to lie and to steal and to be cruel towards others. The abuse they used on Cosette was used on both Eponine and Azelma. I cannot imagine what must have been like for the Thenardiers’ daughters.

unknown-1

Despite all of the abuse, Eponine was brave despite feeling neglected and lonely and she never knew what it felt to be loved by someone else. The only source of light in her life was Marius, but he could never be hers.

Cosette represents hope and light and was raised by a loving father. Eponine is not quite as greedy or selfish as her parents, but sometimes she does act in destructive ways due to jealously. I think it was important that Eponine was a Thenardier and she does raise above her upbringing in both the book and musical. Even though Eponine was killed at the barricades, her parents didn’t seem to care that both her and Gavroche didn’t survive the uprising.

images-1

unknown

The Thenardiers do represent the very worst of humanity, but there are those that represent the very best of humanity. The bishop for instance represents that. The bishop gave Valjean a second chance in life. The bishop gave Valjean a place to sleep, food to eat and treated him with compassion and kindness. Even when Valjean stole the bishop’s silver, the bishop forgave Valjean and gave the silver to Vavljean as gift. Valjean lived by the bishop’s example throughout the rest of the book. He showed compassion towards the poor especially towards Fantine and rescued the broken Cosette from the hands of the evil Thenardiers. When a man was falsely accused of being Valjean, Valjean turned himself in and confessed his real identity. He rescued Marius at the barricade for the sake of his daughter.

images-2

unknown-2

Les Mis represents humanity as a whole and is truly about the survival of the human spirit. Victor Hugo knew that as long as poverty, ignorance, and misery exist, his book will always be relevant. The musical stays very faithful to the book despite some differences in the characters. For instance, Eponine and Marius are only just acquaintances  in the book, but in the musical they are portrayed as friends. Les Mis is still universal because poverty,  misery and ignorance still exist, but at the same time, sacrifice, hope, love, compassion, forgiveness, and redemption still exist on the face of this earth. I understand the success of Les Mis. It is extremely powerful and filled with several emotions. It knows how to strongly emotionally connect you.

Analysis of Cosette

Major Spoilers

Cosette is Fantine’s daughter and later becomes Valjean’s adopted daughter.

-1823

We first learn about Cosette through Fantine. Fantine had to leave her daughter into the hands of the Thenardiers. Little did she know how poorly the Thenardiers would treat Cosette. The Thenardiers make Fantine believe that her daughter is seriously ill just to make money. The Thenardiers horribly abuse Cosette and treat her like a servant. Cosette is especially scared of Madame Thenardier. Cosette hopes for a better life and through “Castle on a Cloud”, we learn she gets through the abuse through fantasies that she creates. The money that Fantine sends for Cosette is used to spoil the Thenardiers’ daughter, Eponine. Following her parent’s lead, Eponine treats Cosette poorly as well. The Thenardiers force Cosette to collect water late at night, which terrifies Cosette.

On Christmas Eve, Valjean meets Cosette for the first time. It was during one of those times when the Thenardiers sent Cosette into the woods to collect water from the well. Cosette is eight at the time and Valjean cannot believe that this is the little girl that he was looking for. A couple scenes back, Valjean promises to her dying mother that he would raise Cosette as his daughter. Valjean learns the truth about Cosette and cannot believe the abuse that Cosette had to face. Cosette was scared of Valjean at first, but later learns to trust him as they walk back to the Thenardiers’ inn.

Valjean had to buy Cosette away from the Thenardiers, but they try to make Valjean believe that Cosette is in good hands with them, but Valjean knows the truth. Cosette finally gets the freedom she wants and Valjean becomes a loving father to her. Both Valjean and Cosette are both broken and have never found love before and they help heal each other.

unknown-2

-1832

Nine years pass and Cosette becomes this seventeen year old teenager. She is living with a loving father. Cosette is very protective and sheltered, which makes sense because Valjean is always on the run from Javert. This makes raising Cosette quite difficult at times. One day in the street, a law student named Marius bumps into Cosette and automatically falls in love with her and the same thing happens to her. Eponine is also in love with Marius and she is now living in extreme poverty and has become a part of the criminal world.

les-miserables-australia-2014-euan-doidge-emily-langridge

The two girls lives have literally switched places. Cosette is quite curious and demands to know the past of her adopted father and her mother, but Valjean is not willing to tell her. She is even charitable, which she learned through Valjean. There is not much to her at this point in the story, but she is still an incredible character. The relationship between Valjean and Cosette is quite special. They found happiness for the first time through each other. Cosette was horribly abused as a child and Valjean faced hard labor in prison. They both have gone through some kind of trauma and through their relationship, they found some kind of happiness.

Eventually Marius find Cosette again because Eponine found the address for him. The two lovers confess their love for each other as Eponine watches in the background. At this point, the Thenardiers try to rob Valjean’s house, but Eponine screams to warn Valjean and Valjean believes that Javert has found him so he tells Cosette that they are leaving for England. Cosette does not want to leave due to her love for Marius, but even Valjean does not know that she loves Marius.

Valjean does learn that Cosette is in love with Marius in the second act after Eponine delivers a note from Marius to Cosette. Valjean heads to the barricades to protect Marius due to how much he loves Cosette. After Marius becomes seriously injured, Valjean takes Marius to his grandfather’s house. While Marius is recovering, Cosette helps take care of him. Later Cosette’s adopted father dies and all Marius and Cosette have is each other. Even though they both have happier fates than a lot of the other characters, they still have faced lots of trauma in their lives: Cosette as child and Marius watching all of his friends die.

Lots of Les Mis fans dislike Cosette just because she fall in love with Marius and because she does not have much depth to her. True Cosette is kind of one dimensional when she becomes a teenager. But there is no need to dislike Cosette because she loves Marius and because Marius loves Cosette. There is nothing wrong with the love triangle between Marius, Cosette, and Eponine. People feel like Marius and Cosette should never have become a couple in the first place and that Marius should be with Eponine. I believe that Marius and Cosette is a wonderful pairing and as a matter of fact, that relationship is based off young Victor Hugo and his first love. That is one big reason why I love Marius and Cosette together. True people might think that Valjean shelters and protects Cosette too much, but Valjean was an ex-convict on the run. So many people tend to forget about young Cosette.

There is a reason why Cosette is the logo of Les Mis. She played such a big part of Valjean’s life and she even connects to the other character’s storylines as well. She is Fantine’s daughter, involved in a love triangle with Eponine and Marius, Marius is one of the revolutionaries, used to live with the Thenardiers and because she is Valjean’s adopted daughter, she connect to Javert’s storyline because they are always on the run from Javert. Cosette represents hope and light in this tragic tale and Victor Hugo compares her to a lark. I like Cosette as a character even though she is not as developed as many of the other characters.

Next post is for Marius

Light Overcomes Darkness

Arise, shine, for you light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the Lord rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and king to the brightness of your dawn

-Isaiah 60:1-3

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod,Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
 are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
 who will shepherd my people Israel.

Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

-Matthew 2

At last night’s student-led worship service, the sermon was about these two passages. It was dealing with how we respond to the light. 10% of our life is what happens to us and 90% of our lives is dealing with how we respond.

When King Herod heard about Jesus Christ, he responded to the light with oppression. He ordered the Magi to find the baby in Bethlehem and worship him. In addition, he wanted the Magi to report back to him and say where the baby is so that he could worship him. But in reality, King Herod wanted to kill Jesus because he was opposed to the child. But when the Magi didn’t report back to Herod, he ordered that all baby boys under the age of two in Bethlehem to be killed, but Joseph was warned in a dream to flee.

The same goes for real life. Do we oppose, feel indifferent, or do we worship the light? If we choose to feel indifferent to the light, the real tragedy is that it can lead to opposition. The best option of all of these is to worship the light. It doesn’t matter how we worship Christ. We can worship through singing Christian songs, praying, dance, coloring, or writing. When we encounter the good news of Christ, we can’t just sit there.

The light is stronger than the dark. The light will overcome all darkness. I choose to worship the light instead of opposing or feeling indifferent to it. My strong spirit helps me keep a close relationship with Christ. I feel like I am going on the right path towards working in Nonprofit and I trust God with all my heart. Christ came to fix all of the darkness and he died on the cross to save us from our sins. The gifts the magi brought to Jesus represent a desire for Christ.

Everyone needs Christ in their lives. He helps us when things are tough, stressful, or hurtful. Light is stronger than darkness and the same is true for love. Love and kindness is what humanity truly is. So if you have the desire to have Christ in your life, never feel indifferent or opposed to the light.

 

Business of Life

Life is very difficult, but so beautiful and wonderful. Even though life is fragile, it is so worth it even if our time on earth is so short. It doesn’t seem like life is short, but it really is. Life is so fragile because there are times when we are going to enter a period of darkness and during those times, it can feel like there is no hope. But in reality, there is always hope even in some very painful times in our life. Life is chaotic because you never know where it will lead you.

Life is like a gigantic roller coaster. There are so many twists and turns. Things happen in life that we have no control over. We need to know how to handle periods of darkness. There are many healthy ways to heal and thrive during those moments. One simple way is just to be out in nature. Even music has a wonderful way  of healing. Just coloring or reading can allow you to cope. The same goes for writing and I believe this blog has helped me cope with the stress of college.

The chaotic nature of life also comes from time management. As a college student, I understand how important time management is. It can be hard to balance the academics with all of the social aspects. I love to learn, but at the same time I can dislike studying at times. I spent a good chunk of this semester writing a gigantic paper in Sociological Theory. The social aspect of college is just as important as the academics. I have been able to volunteer with my club, hike, and even nights of arts and crafts. Even hanging out with friends is very important. I try to stay ahead of the game in order to find time to do all of the social aspects. College is one of the best parts of my life and my school has a wonderful community.

Chaotic