Amanda Jolley

Studio Joy

Les Miserable on ?Contentment?

Les Misérables (Signet Classics)

Another favorite passage from Les Miserables:

Jean Valjean  Book First XVI: “There are people who ask nothing more; living beings who, having blue sky, say: “it is enough!” dreamers absorbed in marvel, drawing from idolatry of nature an indifference to good and evil, contemplators of the cosmos radiantly diverted from man, who do not understand how anybody can busy himself with the hunger of these, with the thirst of those, with the nakedness of the poor in winter, with the lymphatic curvature of a little backbone, with the pallet, with the garret, with the dungeon, and with the rags of shivering little girls, when he might dream under the trees; peaceful and terrible souls, pitilessly content.”

I find this passage even more intriguing after delving into Contentment myself. Biblical contentment is being satisfied with one’s state of being no matter what. It is, in a sense, being grateful, no matter the circumstances. The people described in the passage above are seemingly content. Victor Hugo describes them as “pitilessly content.” They have no compassion, so lulled with their own dreams and the beauty of nature.

Pondering why this passage struck me so, I think it’s from the fear that I would become such a person, so content with the happiness of my family and the ease of my life that I would forget the needs of others. God has created me in such a way that my heart grieves for those in need. And we have chosen to live in a part of our city that is not white-washed and beautiful. The need of mankind is evident here. But occasionally I do forget, or ignore the needs, so that I can just simply be. In this state, I have never found true contentment, but often depression as the my heart responds to the the cries of the people even when my mind does not.

amanda ∞

3 Comments on “Les Miserable on ?Contentment?”

  1. Victor Hugo was a genius!

    Amanda, I doubt you could become pitilessly content. You have been given a good eye, you see the needs of others and give generously. Matthew 6:19-23. For information on the ancient Jewish understanding of a good eye

    Marissa and I went to a community training today called ‘The Culture of Poverty.’ I thought of you as I was leaving. I think you would enjoy the teaching. I wonder if there is a trainer in your area? Actually, I think it would be good training for everyone that works with Veronica’s Voice. aha! Process, Inc.

  2. On that note, I noticed in my last issue of “On Mission” reference to a book called “Plunging 2 Poverty” by Jimmy and Janet Dorrell. I would love to hear from anyone who has experience with the book. My family has had a few years of financial challenge, but I cringe when I hear my children describe us as “poor” (though, thankfully, their attitudes are not ungrateful). Relative to the majority of the world, we are both physically and spiritually wealthy! I wonder if this book would be venture our HS group could take undertake?

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