“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.” – Claude-Michel Schonberg, Les Miserables
The finale to the musical Les Misérables takes Victor Hugo’s story of the conditions that led to the French Revolution and turns it to focus on the power of hope. I’ve always been struck by the parallels in this song and what occurs at Catholic Charities when people find some relief in their crises.
Throughout this newsletter, we’ve referenced moving from darkness to light. Many of our clients feel this fear and darkness and speak of reeling from blows that seem to come out of nowhere.
Scripture refers to us all as “children of the light” and “a people of hope.” Schonberg’s lyrics reflect this same spark of hope. “Do you hear the people sing?” he asks. You see, people are resilient. With a little help and encouragement, they find inner strength. Schonberg knows we sing when we are happy, but we also sing when we are resolved and determined.
Our clients don’t come looking for someone else to solve all their problems. They look for guidance and support as they find their own way. That ex-offender is determined to not return to prison. The woman fleeing domestic violence is determined to break the cycle of abuse for her family. The jobseeker, who doesn’t know where to start, is determined to find the words and actions that will land that first job – and keep it.
Our clients are internally singing “the music of a people who are climbing to the light.”
The remarkable staff at Catholic Charities knows this isn’t our song to sing. Rather, it’s our task to fan the spark of hope that makes the song possible inside the people who come to us. It’s THEIR strength, THEIR resilience, and THEIR determination that changes the course of their lives. We are just the fortunate companions on their journey to self-sufficiency.
Schonberg’s lyrics go on to call us to be part of the solution:
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?
He points out that we have the ability to help make the world a better place for everyone. It may seem like a slow, incremental change, but for the families who climb out of poverty, life is dramatically different. No more worries about where their next meal will come from. No more anxiety as the first of the month approaches and rent becomes due. Their life is better because of you and your support of Catholic Charities.
Better lives, secure and thriving families, lives lived in the light of dignity and self-reliance – this is the world we long to see. Together, we can make it a reality for one family at a time.