By Molly Bice-Jackson - 4:29 PM
I want to tell you about an experience I get to have every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday night.
At the end of Les Mis, when we go out to take our bows and sing the final song, I get to face the audience. It is one of the very few times in the whole show that we actually sing to the audience. And each and every time, without fail, there are multiple people wiping tears from their eyes.
So much goes through my mind at that moment:
I'm so grateful I get to be a part of this production.
This came at such a perfect time in my life.
I wonder why that woman is crying? I wonder what is going on in her life.
Did she recently lose a loved one?
Is she just moved by the beautiful music and story of mercy and love?
Why is that man crying?
What have these people overcome in their lives? What are they dealing with right now?
What is in their hearts?
Sometimes I get so wrapped up in their faces. I want to know their stories. At my last show, I was so lost in thought as I looked into the eyes of the people sitting in the section I was facing that after the ensemble took our bow, I forgot I was supposed to move out of the way and face a different direction for the leads to take their bows. I just stood there looking into all of their faces. My cute friend and cast mate, Megan Holmes, had to gesture for me to move. I was frozen there as I watched the beauty in these people's faces.
As one of my blog readers commented a few weeks ago, the lyrics of that final song are extremely moving.
"Do you hear the people sing? Lost in the valley of the night. It is the music of a people who are climbing to the light. For the wretched of the earth there is a flame that never dies. Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. They will live again in freedom in the garden of the Lord, they will walk behind the plowshare, they will put away the sword. The chain will be broken and all men will have their reward. 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. TOMORROW COMES!"
Although Les Miserables is a story filled with darkness and death, there is so much hope woven in the epic novel and script. The fact that the very end of the show ends with the words, "Tomorrow comes" is especially powerful to me.
I received a heartbreaking email this week from a lovely woman in South Africa who lost a full term child to stillbirth. She is currently experiencing other extremely difficult challenges in her life. I have not yet responded to her. (I hope she is reading this...) I have been digesting her questions. Her email was very sacred and I don't want my response to her to be quick or flippant. It deserves respect and time and a sincere response. But if I could summarize what my heart is wanting to tell her, it's that "Tomorrow comes." We never know the joys we are capable of one day feeling. We never know how beautifully things can turn out...even though there seems to be no way out. No redemption. No mercy. No light or love. But I believe there is always a way.
It takes a lot of work. We have to educate ourselves on grief, on forgiveness, on working through and with our problems and the people in our life. But tomorrow eventually comes. And somehow, in some way, it can be beautiful. Even MORE beautiful because of the heart break. We just can't give up hope.
I'm so thankful I get to see those sacred tears on the cheeks of perfect strangers every night as I look into the audience. I think they feel the truth of those words--tomorrow comes. Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise. Even though I may never know the stories that their tears tell, nor will I ever know their names, they feel so much less like strangers when I see those tears...they are the same tears I've cried many, many times.