What is it that opens your heart? For me, often the answer is music. There are some melodies that are hauntingly beautiful. When they are accompanied by exquisite harmonies and inspiring lyrics, that music opens the floodgates of my heart and touches something deep inside my soul.
I see evidence in our community that I am not alone. Music lifts and transcends. It pulls us to memories and deep desires. There are many songs that uplift me. Like many other communities, music has become integral to our Sunday service. It sets the tone by uplifting, opening the heart and preparing the mind to receive the message. I believe that some music opens us directly to Spirit by becoming a visioning.
Some of the most uplifting pieces come from musicals. This is so of my favorite song…really a compilation of songs at the end of the musical Les Miserables. The music is by Claude-Michel Schonberg and English lyrics by Herbert Kretzner. I have seen the play many times and am moved by the story. It is a story of justice, Divine Love, forgiveness, compassion and freedom. The protagonist, a redeemed thief, Jean Val Jean is dying. The Finale begins with his prayer.
“God on high
Hear my prayer
Take me now
To thy care
Where You are
Let me be
Take me now
Take me there
Bring me home
Bring me home.”
I believe it is a Universal desire to go home, to be with our Source, to reunite with the Presence. We do not need to wait until our dying breath to return home, but rather we can reunite in every moment by letting go of our inner chatter and listen for the voice of intuition within us.
During his life, Jean Val Jean, compassionately cared for Fantine, a woman who worked at whatever jobs she could get to provide care for her daughter Cosette. Fantine was typical for an impoverished, unmarried, pretty young woman in those days. She was abused by her employer and by men in society. When she died Jean Val Jean promised to care for her daughter. Cosette did not know anything about her mother until Jean Val Jean’s death. Fantine’s spirit comes to accompany Jean Val Jean to heaven.
Her words are:
“Come with me
Where chains will never bind you.
All your grief
At last, at last behind you.”
These would have been exactly the words that Jean Val Jean longed to hear all his life. Imprisoned and in chains for stealing a loaf of bread, he escaped and was mercilessly stalked by Inspector Javier. This is another Universal desire, for freedom. Since we believe that heaven and hell are states of consciousness, we can choose heaven today. We can let go of the chains that bind us to old ideas. We choose heaven when we live steadfastly in the present and let the past be the past. We choose heaven when we forgive ourselves for any mistakes we have made and forgive others who have injured or harmed us in any way.
The last words Fantine’s spirit, Eponine’s spirit and Jean Val jean sing are:
The truth that once was spoken
To love another person
Is to see the face of God!”
How true these words are! Not only do we see the face of God in the loved one, but the loved one is seeing the face of God in the lover. The nature of God is unconditioned Love. That is our essential nature.
Then the chorus begins,
“Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night,”
This is an ancient idea. The 23rd Psalm reminds us:
“Yeah, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil.”
Who hasn’t been lost in the valley of the night? It is part of the human experience, and can become the dark night of the soul that leads us to a spiritual awakening. Any heartbreak, any loss, real or imagined, any sense of separation from Source is the valley of the night.
Yet the next line reads, “It is the music of the people /Who are climbing to the light.”
The melody is victorious, matching the optimism of the lyrics. During my twenty plus years in ministry, I have witnessed dozens of people who have moved through their night valleys. I have been there a few times myself. Is there anything that is keeping you awake at night? Wouldn’t it be great to fall into grace, or the arms of the Beloved, knowing that all is well? Nothing is standing in your way but some old beliefs that don’t become you anymore.
Ernest Holmes, in the Declaration of Principles, written in 1927, wrote this:
“We believe the ultimate goal of life to be a complete freedom from all discord of every nature, and that this goal is sure to be attained by all.”
What great news this is! Not only is there freedom from discord but everyone is certain to attain it! What a promise of an awakened world that works for everyone.
The song continues with these lyrics:
“For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.”
When you are going through hell, don’t stop and build a condominium complex there. The darkest night will end.
“They will live again in freedom
In the garden of the Lord,
They will walk behind the plough-share
They will put away the sword
The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward!”
Again the song is about an awakening world. Then one of my favorite parts, the call to action:
“Will you join in our crusade?
Who will be strong and stand with me?
Somewhere beyond 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 the future that they bring
When tomorrow comes!”
We believe that our centers grow by attraction not promotion. I am the last person to begin evangelizing, knocking on doors and pressing our message on those who haven’t looked for it. Yet, this idea of a crusade appeals to me. It sounds noble but also bloody. My crusade requires only a shift in consciousness no weapons needed. It does take strength (of character.) It requires us to see correctly through the eyes of Love. The only barricade is one of our own making. It is a barrier of false beliefs and limited thinking. When we see the world through the eyes of Love, the world we are longing to see, is the one we are in here and now.