The beauty in a life of meaning

Last weekend, BJ and I went to see Les Mis at the Kennedy Center. It is a show I have seen several times since I fell in love with the music (both the words and the melodies) when I accompanied my high school chorus. In high school as I worked in a factory (a job my Dad made me get so I would appreciate the value of a college edudation), I listened to the book on tape.  I have to say, I like the broadway production more than the book. As a child, I remember that is was Mr. Bruner's favorite book. Mr. Bruner was in his 90s when he was my friend at about 7 years old.  He lived within walking distance of my house and we would pretend to drink tea together for tea parties or he would share real cookies his cleaning lady made for him. Mr. Bruner was an agriculture teacher, who was an expert in chrysathemums as well as literature and the Bible. He was a true Renaissance man whom I feel lucky to have known, but I digress.

Every time I watch and listen to the words to Les Mis, I am stirred by the story and the talent presenting it and am convinced this production is the most beautiful piece of art of my generation.  Set during the the French Revolution, the depth of symbols abound about oppression and victory. The people's oppression by the government is subtly woven through the tales. Yet the underlying theme of the ways life can oppress us with shame, poverty, illness, greed and loneliness are defeated by victory in a life well-lived as time and time again the lead character evades oppression in his quest to help others, to care for his fellow man and to know the depth of live a life of meaning.

As I enjoyed Les Mis this time, the story  touched me a little deeper this time, partly because I don't get the chance to see Broadway shows very often these days due to the oppressive restrictions of time and money (saying this tongue in cheek as I know nothing is oppressive in my life, really, but maybe my ungrateful attitude at times). But mostly I was moved to the core because it was the first time I'd seen it since I became a Mother, this experience which has challenged me to value a little deeper a quest to live a life of meaning.

In some ways I think back on a time in my life when I had the freedom, the time and the money to see more broadway shows (and get a new wardrobe every season among other frivolities), it was great, but so is this.

The last few weeks have provided some Fall fun with friends and family.

Our friend Daniel rode down from DC on his bike and spent the night with us. His parents and mine are best friends...we call each other Aunt and Uncle so this scene warms my heart.

We met my childhood friend Dorinda and her mother and her precious dogs for an afternoon at Graves Mountain apple orchard.

Yes, Dorinda and I are the same age....can't really tell by her face, right?! Beautiful.

It was a lovely day.

We played, the girls petted animals and we had a country style meal at the lodge.

Molly Mae loves chicken off the leg and it cracks me up every time I see her eating it like this.

The girls had fun and so did we. I remember my Dad saying atleast 100 times that when you are a parent, life is good when your kids are happy. This does not mean that his goal of parenting was for his kids to be happy, and neither is mine. Meaning is a lot more sought-after in this style of parenting, but happiness is certainly a perk.

We went on a hayride to tour this beautiful farm. Both the girls have their own flare and style....Anna Cate with the piece of straw in her teeeth, Molly with the upside down sunglasses and bow disheveled.

Just when I was a little worried about if Molly Mae knows that I'm her Mommy, she gave me some extra time, like hugging my leg. This is meaningful to me.

Molly flashes a look or cocks her head in a way as if I'm watching a caricature of the cutest child on the planet (I remember feeling the same way about Anna Cate and am sure every mother feels this way).

Now, I look at Anna Cate and enjoy our connection, our conversations and the meanings she is developing about life.

Her confidence and easy connection with others is so often revealed.

We celebrated Anna Cate's half birthday with friends at her favorite restaurant.

So thankful for her and for friends to help us celebrate her.

How photogenic is Owen!!!  He is a precious, precious little soul.
But little brother doesn't have to worry...he's got the face for a camera as well.

So in wrapping up my little journal about this life of meaning as I look at these pictures and think about the profundity of a broadway show and real life, I see joy on the face of my children and say a prayer for my family and friends.  I noticed all the opportunities to embrace a life of meaning and I procliam my belief that life is meaningful with love, grace, charity and comraderie, like in Les Mis and in our life.

I knew this before I had chidren, but in these faces, I see even more meaning in that beautiful line, "To Love another person is the see the face of God."

"We are born believing; a man bears beliefs as the tree bears apples." -- Ralph Waldo Emerson