Sunday, September 22, 2013

God of the Whole Wide World

"And when the strife is fierce, the    warfare long,
Steals on the ear the distant              triumph song,
And hearts are brave again, and  arms are strong. 
Alleluia! Alleluia!"
--Hymn,"For All the Saints," verse 4,  William H. How, 1823-1897

Last night I was privileged to attend a concert called: "Hope and Remembrance." The community choral performance was a benefit for the Cancer Association of Anderson, South Carolina. They asked all the cancer survivors to stand and all over the house people of all ages stood, many with tears in their eyes. The distinguished man sitting next to me whispered, "I am a cancer survivor, too." Then they asked all the caregivers who had once helped someone who had gone on to stand. All these brave soldiers received a standing ovation.

The songs the choir sang were made up of music from stage and screen productions. But the last few selections to end the concert were from the musical, Les Miserables. As they sang I remembered the story. I think Carlyle Marney first pointed this scene out for me. Cosette is one of the characters in the book and the drama.  Cosette was alone in the dark which frightened her and she stained at carrying a bucket of water she had been forced to carry. And this is the way the author, Victor Hugo puts it:

"She had only one thought, to fly; to fly with all her might, across woods, across fields, to houses, to windows, to lighted candles.  Her eyes fell upon the bucket...She grasped the handle with both hands,. She could hardly lift the bucket.

She went a dozen steps in this manner, but the bucket was full, it was heavy, she was compelled to rest it on the ground...She walked bending forward, her head down, like an old woman: the weight of the bucket strained and stiffened her thin arms. 

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Arriving near an old chestnut tree which she knew,...the poor little despairing thing could not help crying: 'Oh! my God! my God!'

At that moment she felt all at once that the weight of the bucket was gone. a hand, which seemed enormous to her, had just caught the handle, and was carrying it easily. She raised her head.  A large dark form, straight and erect, was walking beside her in the gloom. It was a man who had come up behind her, and whom she had not heard. This man, without saying a word, had grasped the handle of the bucket she was carrying."

Victor Hugo observed: "There are instincts for all the crises of life. The child was not afraid." In time the child learned to call Jean Valjean father and knew him by no other name.

As the music washed over me last night--I thought of all those wounded souls, much like Cosette, who had fought a good fight. And I thought of my own  friends scattered here and there who battle this terrible disease. And I thought of all those the world over who need something and right and true.

Our faith tells us he's got the whole world in his hands.  Not only cancer victims and survivors. Not only the little bitty baby--not only, even we brothers and sisters, but he really does have the whole world in his hands.

This is what I thought about all the way home driving through the darkness last night. I hope my friends across the miles remember this truth--and I hope, on the hard days, especially the hard days, I remember it, too.

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