Saturday, November 12, 2011

Silver Candlesticks

I was reading about the character - Jean Valjean - from Victor Hugo's classic Les Miserables. There is a story in that book has consistently brought me so much peace. I love it. It is the interaction between Valjean and Bishop Beauvian. He just escaped from 19 years of being in the galleys for having stolen a loaf of bread to feed his mother's starving family. During this whole time his view of himself had changed. In his own mind, he had become a monster, an ex-convict capable of the worst imaginable.

When this bishop takes in Valjean, he treats Valjean with complete respect and absolute trust. So much so that Valjean is confused and even warns the bishop what kind of person he is. Being consumed by a wicked impulse, Valjean "repays" the bishop's kindness by stealing all his silver in his home, (almost). He then absconds before any in the household find what he has done.

Soon after, he is caught by the police and taken back to the bishop. When the two meet, the bishop frankly forgives Valjean and instead of casting him back into prison, he instantly says to him, "You forgot the candlesticks," saying that they were silver too. What an amazing scene. Valjean was once again free. But this time he was even more free than before. And the bishop told him: "Valjean, my brother, you belong no longer to evil but to good..."

This act of forgiveness not only provided a small monetary start to this despicable man's life, but more importantly, a new view of himself. The character of the bishop is, in my opinion, one of the best-depicted types of Jesus Christ that exists in world literature.

I have drawn so much peace from this story. I hope you can too.

1 comment:

  1. Awesome Andy! I love this story too. I need to read it again.