My sister used to live in New York and my mother had decided that we would visit her to see Broadway shows. She would be there for longer than I, and I longer than dad, so she’d see a total of 3—we each got to choose one. Dad chose Les Misérables. In preparation and, I suspect, yet another attempt to Build Character, I had to read the [abridged] novel in advance.
I remember nothing of that tome. But I remember well the
musical opera. I even bought one of the soundtracks. I have many favorite pieces from it, but one of them is “the Bishop”: the moment when Jean Valjean experiences redemption. It brings tears to my eyes whenever I hear it—this, I think to myself each time, this is the whole of religion, morality, lovingkindness, whathaveyou: this is true love of fellow man.
Come in sir for you are weary
And the night is cold out there
Though our lives are very humble
What we have we have to share
There is wine here to revive you
There is bread to make you strong
There’s a bed to rest till morning
Rest from pain and rest from wrong