Do you have something that is so powerful it can take hold of you and make you feel every emotion possible? A song that fills your heart so it wants to explode? A movie or book or poem? The very presence of it takes away the world and fills you with so much emotion you have no words? That is Les Mis for me. It just speaks to me. Totally and fully on every level. I cannot tell you why. I cannot put it to words. It just fills my soul. And I hurt and I weep and I am filled with love and compassion and joy. I am giddy and broken and want to stand on a mountaintop and sing.
Les Mis, the movie, just came out on dvd. (I love the play, but the movie, being able to see the expressions on faces, that did me in more than the play ever has). I watched the movie in the theater twice. I cried, but I held back. I wanted to go more, but I could not put myself through all the emotions. I was consumed. So tonight was the night I found three hours and curled up alone in my basement and let the emotions take over. And I cried loud and hard. I grasped at my chest to keep my heart from pounding out with excitement of revolution. My legs went to jello with love. And now, here I sit, alone with all of this. Letting the story and music just flood me. I hope you have your Les Mis. Something that makes you full and out of control and desperate and amazed and passionate. We all need this.
And when Marius sang “Empty Chairs and Empty Tables” I let myself mourn a bit. For I too feel I am saying good bye to something amazing. Not goodbye really, but I have to face a new reality. My career is changing. The world of placing younger, healthier children is coming to and end. The children I am asked to place, that I WANT to place, are children with stories and lives and experiences that make them “hard to place” “special needs”… whatever you want to call it.
I thought of all the times I met with groups of adoptive families and we were inspired. I though of all the times over the past 14 years that co-workers and I sat around tables dreaming, making big things happen. And we still do, but there are fewer of us. But we still dream. We still want a revolution for these children of the world. We want a revolution of love and family and acceptance.
Not to sound overly dramatic, but I feel like I am behind that barricade fighting for something that the world does not want. I am out numbered by bureaucracy and governments and policies and rules and money and no one wants to fight that fight, so we make excuses and let the majority rule.
And this can happen with any “underdog”. We all believe in something. So many of us fight for someone who can’t fight for themselves. Injustice is on every corner. Slavery and war and oppression and inequality surround us. And how often do we have to shrug it off? Move on.
I don’t want to be surrounded with Empty Chairs and Empty Tables. I am sick of mourning for people that are lost. Children that will never be found. Professionals that do not have work to do. Families that do not have money to take the next step. All of those are people who sat in those chairs, around those tables and “talked of revolution”. And those chairs are emptying. And the tables are vacant.
“There’s a grief that can’t be spoken. There’s a pain goes on and on. Empty chairs at empty tables. Now my friends are dead and gone. Here they talked of revolution. Here it was they lit the flame. Here they sang about tomorrow, but tomorrow never came. (and here is the part that really spoke to me…) “From the table in the corner, they could see a world reborn. And they rose with voices ringing. I can hear them now! The very words that they have sung. Became their last communion. On the lonely barricade at dawn.”
I will stand in that room though. I will hold my flag high against all the impossibilities pointed at me. What is your flag? What room are you in? Are your tables empty? Can you fill your chairs? Please don’t give up!
“Do you hear the people sing, lost in the valley of the night? It is the music of the people who are climbing to the light. For the wretched of the earth there is a flame that never dies. Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.”
“Will you join in my crusade? Who will be strong and stand with me. Somewhere behind the barricade is there a world you long to see? Do you hear the people sing, say do you hear the distant drums, it is a future that we bring when tomorrow comes!”
Can’t you see them? The wretched? The lost? Those dark nights…but when there is hope, where there is a voice, when there is community, the sun will rise, the people will sing, tomorrow will come.
Be the voice, the community, the sunrise. Walk into tomorrow. Singing, fighting, claiming back the rights of the oppressed.