Monthly Archives: September 2009

>Leaves

>I am hopelessly behind in blogging, so I won’t bother trying to catch up the past two and a half weeks. School started and with it came all the hullaballoo of Welcome Week, and that is the primary reason I haven’t written more. It was admittedly stressful and I probably didn’t cope with it as well as I could have, but there is always grace and a new day tomorrow.

Last night I started writing a fictionalized account of my first relationship, but I began from the perspective of my wedding. That was a little scary to put down on paper, but I’ve found that writing is a handy way to “download” thoughts that are eating at me and this time was no different. In the story Mary Jane is getting married in the fall even though her favorite season is spring because that is when the trees are the most colorful. As I was writing, I realized the profoundness of that truth. The most arguably beautiful season in the forest precedes the bleak winter when there are no leaves at all. The rich green chlorophyll must fade in a sort of death in order for the flaming zeaxanthins and carotenoids to come through. (Don’t worry, I don’t write like this in the story!)

Perhaps the central tenet of Christianity is to show how death can enrich life. It’s not just knowing that our time is limited and we must make the most of our time on earth. It’s letting the old self die with Christ so that the new self can live. Each season of my life seems to bring this cycle of something dying to make way for something to be born, which I still struggle to remember sometimes. But it’s comforting to know that, in many respects, death is not the end of the journey.

>Summer Reading Round-up

>I’m pretty pleased with myself for getting a lot of reading in this summer despite a full course-load.

Les Miserables (started in January), The Shack, The Woman I Am Becoming, Just How Married Do You Want to Be?, Choosing God’s Best, Passion and Purity, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, Changes that Heal (started spring quarter), New Seeds of Contemplation (started spring quarter)

Whatever happened to reading novels??

>Cosette

>“I am Cosette.” This was the somewhat strange word I received through prayer during a support group meeting back in April. Cosette is a character in Les Misérables and a striking literary counterpart of me. She is the illegitimate daughter of Fantine, one of the destitute proletariat in nineteenth-century France. Forced to keep her daughter hidden for fear of losing her job, Fantine boards her daughter with the Thenardiers, who abuse Cosette horribly while pocketing the money her mother sends for her care. After losing her job and hiring herself out as a prostitute, Fantine is unfairly arrested but pardoned by the mayor, Monsieur Madeleine, aka Jean Valjean, the main character of the book. He promises the dying Fantine that he will fetch her daughter; when he goes to the Thenardiers he quietly pays an exorbitant price to take her away. He then dedicates his entire life to raising this girl.

Sin had me captive, but Christ was willing to “pay what I must pay to take Cosette away” (from the musical). The passage where Jean Valjean keeps handing over money to the greedy Thenardier is incredibly moving. After rescuing her, he nurtures her and she becomes a beautiful young woman, though sheltered because of the danger that stalks Valjean.

At the very end of the book, however, I saw a new dimension of Cosette that really hit home. By now, she has married Marius, with whom she fell in love at first sight. (“A Heart Beneath a Stone” is a love letter from Marius to the yet unknown Cosette and is possibly my favorite chapter in all of literature.) She is so wrapped up in her new husband that she fails to see her adoptive father’s heartbreak at losing her. His sacrifices for her never stopped: he risked life and limb to rescue Marius from the barricade, slogging four miles through the sewer to bring him to safety so that she could be happy, but he never tells her any of it for fear of giving away too much information that might incriminate his past. (The Valjean/God metaphor is, of course, far from perfect.)

How often do I do this, falling in love with some happy circumstance, some bit of creation, to the neglect of the Creator? Let me never again be like Cosette in this respect! I once prayed that God would keep away anything that might tempt me to forget Him, and I’m sure He’s done that in some situations, but He lets others pass, to give me the chance to remember Him freely. There’s a difference, I’m realizing, between never being tempted and being tempted but not giving in. It’s hard, but I’m slowly learning to feel honored to be deemed worthy of trial.