Gratitude 2014 – Great Characters

This week, I express gratitude for a few fictional characters and their creators who used these characters to show us how to live great lives. These are three of my favorite characters who have taught me how to be a better person.

Ellie Frederickson from Up

She’s only in the movie for a short time but leaves a lasting impression. It is she who encourages Carl to try new things, to have dreams and to make life an adventure. Unfortunately, Carl doesn’t get it until Russell comes into his life to remind him of this. For her adventure was in everyday life with the one she loved.

Bishop Charles-François-Bienvenu Myriel from Les Miserables

For those who are only familiar with the theatrical adaptations of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, you won’t know that the venerable bishop whom Jean Valjean interacts with has a much more fleshed out story within the novel. In fact, the first several chapters of the book are directly related to him. Why? Because he is what sets the whole journey of mercy and redemption into action. Without him, Jean Valjean would not have started his path as a loving and generous benefactor. I had always been impressed with the bishop, but even more so when I read his story.

The good bishop is described in a near perfect individual full of love and charity toward all of his brothers and sisters. This is how he gets the name Bienvenu. There’s only one really point that he shows his human weakness, but even that he overcomes. As Valjean says in the musical:

“Why did I allow that man to touch my soul and teach me love? He treated me like any other. He gave me his trust. He called me brother. My life he claims for God above. Can such things be? For I have come to hate the world, this world that always hated me.”

Evangeline St. Clare from Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Whether you appreciate or not Uncle Tom’s Cabin, you have to agree that Evangeline St. Clare is an angel. She treats all people the same. She loves everyone and wants everyone to be happy and feel loved. From the moment Tom sees her on the riverboat, he likens her to an angelic presence. Until the day she’s no longer with him, she treats him as if she were an angel. Reading about her made me beam with gladness and I ball with sadness when she was gone.

I am grateful for the examples of these fictional characters. May we follow the examples of these great characters, to seek adventure in all we do and enjoy life, to be loving and charitable to my fellow brothers and sisters and trust in everyone’s goodness, and to strive to live a humble, purposeful life blessing all those we cross paths with and treating everyone with equal love.

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