Cracks that let…

Friends, late this afternoon there was an Art and Vespers Service at Keffer Chapel. The theme of the event was “The Crack That Lets the Light Get In.” I was asked to provide a short reflection on the theme, which follows. Blessings to you in the cracks in your days. Allen

Leonard Cohen invites us to think mystically about the crack, the lack, the imperfection that marks and mars our journey from cradle to grave:

“Ring the bell that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

These are beautiful words, words that sound the world round; words of hope that play especially well in these days; these days of cracks becoming chasms, and bridges being drawn, and barb-wired walls being scratched across continents and around the world. These words of the prophetic poet Cohen sing the promise of light, the light of God promised by the poetic prophet Paul who hymned

“For it is the God who said, ‘let light shine in the darkness’ who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

This light, says Paul, is the light of the knowledge of God; he tells us that Christians see this light in the face of Jesus, our brother; others speak of seeing this light in other faces, other places but all of us who long for light find it coming in through the cracks that the world hammers in our souls. Cohen invites us to see these cracks – as painful as they may be, as embarrassing as they are, as disturbing as they will be – he calls us to call these cracks differently, to call them portals of grace.

I love Cohen’s poem. I love the way it lets the light in, and I ache for light in these days that are altogether too dark. Into your apocalypse and mine the light comes:

Deep in our hearts, there is a common glowing
Deep in our hearts, God’s hope is burning bright
Deep in our hearts, shalom is surging, growing
Dispersing hatred with God’s sacred light.

Paul speaks of this treasured light lyrically saying “we have this treasure in clay jars,” this light abides in precarious, in precious, in fragile souls… The light that shines in our hearts is held in clay heart jars, jars that are

Afflicted, but not crushed
Perplexed but not despairing
Persecuted but not abandoned
Struck down but never knocked out.

Paul claims that we carry in this weak, in this broken, in this fundamentally flawed physical form the light of resurrecting love. The light that has come in through the cracks will also glow out through these same cracks as we walk into the darkness, into the confusion, into the abyss about us. Light shines out from our battered and broken bodies; hope shines out from our hearts, cleft and bereft; faith shines out from our sorrowing souls that swell and soar with love despite empirical orders to the contrary.

Friends, I close with a poem…

A light from the crack slips
Across my eye, so that now I
See sideways – Now I view the
World askew; now I hear the world anew.
Trees converse with me, and I with them as
They teach me to listen, train me to see:
Ears to bark, eyes on crown, my
Being breathing in their
Breathing out – and the world
Bursts open. It receives me as
I fall into holy palms, as I slide
Into God’s weeping wounds, the
Cracks that let the light shine in; the
Cracks that let God’s love shine out.

8 thoughts on “Cracks that let…

  1. LC Mueller says:

    Breathtakingly Beautiful. Thank you. Exactly what is needed as you are so apt to always figure out, and know, somehow.

  2. shoreacres says:

    Cohen’s song is one of my favorites — as nearly perfect as a song can be. Even so, you’ve managed to draw it out, plumb its depths, in creative and healing ways. This needs to be published, somewhere. Send it to your denominational magazine, or to First Thiings — somewhere. It’s deeply moving, and very wise.

    • agjorgenson says:

      Thanks for the encouraging words Linda. I’ll give your suggestion some thoughts. At any rate, Cohen’s loss is sharply felt. I remember hearing a CBC interview with him, talking about his career. He said that when he got married and had children he knew he needed do something with more security than being a poet, and so became a musician. Everyone laughed, but we are grateful for his poetry and music both.

  3. Hamartia, the word for “sin” in Greek, means miss the mark, as you would know. Even as a college student, I noticed the rightness of the assessment. To fall short is our nature. And we do this in so many ways. Practically, I see it played out in every life I know. Everyone, every one, has sOmething not going for them, so to speak. Me — my cracks are so many I’m surprised I’ve stayed together.

    Which is why He came to make us whole.

    • agjorgenson says:

      I saw recently a lovely post about a Japanese art of taking pottery shards and piecing them together with gold. The results were stunning, and a lovely parable, I think, about what can do with our harmatia!

  4. the crack, the lack, the imperfection. Sound the world round…Poets write poetry, even when they’re writing prose. Thanks for this, and for the hopeful and hope-filled reflection

    • agjorgenson says:

      Prose and poetry may well be spectra on a scale called speech rather than distinct modes of discourse… I have to think about that. All the same, thanks for the encouragement.

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