Recently, I have found myself drawn back to the literary works of Victor Hugo. One passage from Les Miserables stood out to me particular, as 2018 came to an end:
“Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces.”
I cling to this passage, for I must keep believing that even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.
Do you hear what I hear? Do you hear the people sing?
In 2018, I was overwhelmed by chorusing cries of injustice, of pain and suffering. My voice added to the choir. As another year begins, I find myself overwhelmed by it all, and I find myself trying to find a new resolve to carry on in a world that often feels lost to darkness. I often find myself in tears, losing hope.
But Hugo says: “Those who do not weep, do not see.” And I believe there is a great deal of truth in this sentiment. I have learned that it is okay to be sad- to hold grief and sorrow close as we act witness to human suffering and suffer our own trials and tribulations in turn.
Yet still, Hugo also reminds: “Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face.” During the dark nights, I believe we must find some laughter, some joy, to sustain ourselves, whenever possible! And I find my laughter and joy in love: “To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.” Oh, how love fills me up! In my friendships, and most of all in my marriage. I’m slowly learning that it’s okay to love imperfectly.
This time of year is often a time during which I personally have to work my hardest to exercise holding space for dissonant and confusing thoughts- About life, about faith, about people, and about myself.
And so I’m trying. To make space, to remember “and”s over “but”s, to be patient with myself and with those I love, and to remember joy even as I’m sad. To be many things at once and accept what comes; to remember people can only learn when they are ready, myself included.
Happy New Year. May peace and goodwill find you, whoever may encounter these words.