When handed a lemon, do you make lemonade? Do you find sunshine when clouds threaten? This week I was reminded how important it is to find good in the midst of crisis when I attended our local symphony’s performance of Symphonic Dances, a compilation of songs from Leonard Bernstein’s musical score for West Side Story.
I have seen West Side Story twice—once thirty years ago performed by community theater and last year in a touring Broadway production. I don’t remember much about the earlier performance, but in last year’s rendition the producer focused on the gangs, the violence, and the depravity of the story’s environment. Hope was lost in the struggle. The beautiful music Bernstein composed was tacked on like emotional relief. The love story between Tony and Maria paled in light of the tragedy depicted on stage—life in the slums of New York. The entire performance disgusted me. I left feeling depressed rather than uplifted, sorry I wasted my money.
But this week’s symphony performance brought the music and the story to life with impassioned performances of key songs like “Somewhere” and “Maria.” I found myself singing along quietly, remembering the sweetness of this young couple’s devotion. They dreamed of a better life for themselves despite the squalor of the situation around them. Bernstein’s songs rang of hope, of advancement, of rising above the fray—not submitting to the savage horror of street life in the ghetto.
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he encourages us to rejoice in the Lord and not be anxious over things beyond our control. Instead, cover everything with prayer and supplication, with thankfulness, letting our requests be known to God. God’s peace, which outshines all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. In Philippians 4:8 he says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
What a wonderful promise—we can bring everything to the throne of heaven and know we will be heard. In the midst of the darkness, we can shine. We can have hope. Like the song “Somewhere” reminded me, there is a place for us—in God’s scheme of things. Take his hand and he will lead you there.