Kimmy Sophia Brown

The Dichotomy of the Uplifted Ideal and the Dishes in the Sink

Jul 25, 2003
I rented the video of the musical stage production of "Les Miserables - The Dream Cast" and watched it with my children. I kept hitting the "pause" button in order to explain the story to them. I cried through all two hours and twenty minutes of it. To summarize, it is a story set in France in the early 1800's, about a man named Jean Valjean. He is a good man but was put in prison for 19 years for stealing food for his family. He gets out of prison, almost ruined in heart. The kindness of a priest turns his life around, and then he spends the rest of his life helping others, particularly a child he adopts. Throughout everything, he is pursued by an obsessed policeman named Javert who will not let him alone. In Javert's mind, once a man is a criminal, he's always a criminal.

At the end of the show, there is a big finale which includes seventeen men who have played Jean Valjean in their various countries. They sing the big song from the show, stanza by stanza, in their native languages. It is moving, seeing noble-faced men singing the universal message in Spanish, Icelandic, Japanese (Yes, Japanese playing French People!) German, Swedish and many other languages. My throat choked in the way that it does when I'm having an epiphany, and I cried, simply overwhelmed. The final song in the show has a line about "when you love another person, you can see the face of God." I was lifted to the highest spiritual heights by these simplest of spiritual truths.

Then I woke up Sunday morning and had my Sunday morning tantrum, which I have every Sunday. I can never find anything to wear to church, and it is an ordeal to get all the kids ready and then leave the house in a modicum of order. I glance back as we dash out the door and I see the coffee cups, pajamas, wet towels and Sunday newspaper strewn like the remnants of a frantic ransacking.

My husband asked me sweetly "if I was filled with the burning light of love?" He asks me that every day and I usually mutter something like, "I'm filled with the dim bulb of mediocrity." But I know inside that if I was extending love to other people, my own problems would recede into the background. My problems involve lines in my face, excess weight, gray hair, old dresses, dishes in the sink, unfulfilled dreams.

My loving husband reminded me that most people don't think of Mother Teresa as a babe, but she was someone who was always filled with the burning light of love - she was beautiful because she was always giving. She didn't wake up in the morning, storming around the convent yelling, "blue and white, blue and white, I'm sick of wearing the same old thing!" We don't even know if she had any hair, never mind what color it was. But there she was, always extending, involving herself in the needs of others.

The storm clouds passed from my fuzzy little brain then, and I went to church and I sang enthusiastically, leaned my head on my husband's sturdy, dependable shoulder and listened to the words of Jesus which were remarkably on theme; John 21:15 -17 - "Feed my sheep." I felt a mood twinkling within me that I haven't felt for years. I felt truly young and happy, with a little fountain of mirth welling up from within. Wow, depression really clouds the possibility of spontaneous joy. I went home and filled the dishwasher, ready for anything!

Written in 1998

Kim lives in Maine, which is lovely, and where she continues her enthusiastic relationship with Art, Music, Nature, Books, Animals, Humor and Trees.