Posts Tagged ‘Brokenness’
I’ve heard there was a secret chord
That David played, and it pleased the Lord
But you don’t really care for music, do you?
It goes like this
The fourth, the fifth
The minor fall, the major lift
The baffled king composing Hallelujah
Your faith was strong but you needed proof
You saw her bathing on the roof
Her beauty and the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair
She broke your throne, and she cut your hair
And from your lips she drew the Hallelujah
Maybe there’s a God above
But all I ever learned from love
Was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you
But it’s not a crime you’re here tonight
It’s not some pilgrim who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a lonely Hallelujah
But baby I’ve been here before
I know this room and I’ve walked this floor
You see, I used to live alone before I knew you
And I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch
And love is not a victory march
It’s a cold and it’s a very lonely Hallelujah
There was a time you let me know
What’s really going on below
But now you never show it to me, do you?
And remember when I moved in you
The holy dove was moving too
And every single breath that we drew was Hallelujah
I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I learned to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
Note: Leonard Cohen’s classic song Hallelujah, since it was released in 1984, has become one of the greatest songs of all-time. Various singers, like Bob Dylan, Bon Jovi, Bono, Willie Nelson and Celine Dion, have their own versions of the song. To date, there are already more than 300 versions of the song. This is what Bob Dylan has to say about the song:
it’s a beautifully constructed melody that steps up, evolves, and slips back, all in quick time. But this song has a connective chorus, which when it comes in has a power all of its own. The ‘secret chord’ and the point-blank I-know-you-better-than-you-know-yourself aspect of the song has plenty of resonance for me.
To love someone is to reveal to them their capacities for life, the light that is shining in them.
~ Jean Vanier
I had a blog for a few years. The title being, Living Life, Abundantly, which later I found to be a bit ironic. I was missing the abundance all around me as I sat staring at the computer screen, writing feelings and thoughts about people and things around me so that people who were not around me could read them. Rarely did I get down to it and just share what I was feeling with those present.
Being one attracted to those precious moments in life where instant gratification is actually attainable, I reacted to this realization by simultaneously deleting my Facebook account as well as my personal blog, leading many to frantically email and wonder what in the world I was doing with my life by “going off the grid.”
This was an obvious reaction from many — as I grew up in Ohio, and lived in Washington state and now Ireland. Ireland, this wondrous and mysterious land of beauty and green, came into my life quite by chance. I was unemployed and feeling pressure (better read as “my dad wanted me to go to graduate school”). When one day I found myself at my favorite coffee shop reading a Henri Nouwen book about his time in L’Arche, an organization of intentional communities with adults with disabilities. I took a look at my life and summed it up in two words that got my imagination flowing: unemployed and single.
A few weeks later I found myself wandering through a city with my father when he brought up graduate school, yet again, and my reply was, “I’m actually thinking about applying to live in a L’Arche community abroad” to which he replied, “Cool.” I put this into my memory bank of good advice from Dad (which there are endless mental files of) and sent a few emails, which ended with me on a plane landing in a country I’ve never been with a suitcase full of clothes and with no expectations.
The “no expectations” part of my journey was key. Within hours of arriving to my new home, I realized that had I any, they would have been dashed and smashed beyond recognition. I had paid a therapist for two years to continually hear her tell me to “slow down.” Suddenly, I was standing at the bottom of the stairs waiting for Michael, whose name is changed for reasons of privacy, to make his way down the stairs to a ready-made breakfast that was already beginning to cool as he took step by slow step by slow step. Then he paused, and went back upstairs to change his socks. Hours after waking him that morning, a cold breakfast consumed, we made our way through town to work at a turtle’s pace. Only then did I recognize the beauty of this moment; he, 65 years of age and having outlived most with Down syndrome, tipped his hat at people who passed him by and embraced and smiled at those friends of his we met along the way.
What in the world was I rushing off to work for anyway, when it made me pass by these people, these neighbors, these new and old friends in this amazing and unique thing we call life. Later that night I laughed to myself as Michael and I slowly, and together, washed him for bed. I made sure his socks were on to his liking and that his pillow was arranged just right. There is no rush, I breathed to myself, as he stopped, took a look at me, and put his hand on my head and sang to himself, “Lord have mercy.” The perfect blessing to end the day.
There are days that I forget all that I have learned so far, but I am always thankful for the realization when I come back to the present. When I stray and rush to whatever I have next on my to-do list, which I have the tendency to try and make longer, and immediately am brought back down to reality by those like Michael. This morning I rushed into his room while one of the other assistants was waking him up. I asked her a question, dashed back out, and only later did she tell me what had happened as soon as I left the room. Michael, still in bed, looked up after I left the room (without actually having acknowledged him at all in my need to rush) and said, “Hello!” I turned to him as Joanna told me this story over breakfast. He just smiled at me, said hello, and patted me on the head. I took a breath as he and I embraced, and thought of all the important things that I had on my mind to do today, and quickly the list dissappeared as I sat with my good friend Michael and sipped (instead of gulped) my morning coffee.
~ Hannah Kinsley
Riven means broken, it means shattered or wounded or unhealed, and I think that notion is very important to me and my notion of God and of religion: that we are broken creatures, very broken creatures. And I don’t think of God as necessarily healing that brokenness as much as participating in it.
~ Christian Wiman
“Do not rejoice when your enemies fall,
and do not let your heart be glad when they stumble.”
We feel compelled to respond today to the killing of Osama bin Laden by the United States and to the jubilant response across the nation.
A nation has a right to defend itself. From the perspective of the fundamental national security of the United States, this action is legitimately viewed as an expression of self-defense.
But as Christians, we believe that there can no celebrating, no dancing in the streets, no joy, in relation to the death of Osama bin Laden. In obedience to scripture, there can be no rejoicing when our enemies fall.
In that sense, President Obama’s sober announcement was far preferable to the happy celebrations outside the White House, in New York, and around the country, however predictable and even cathartic they may be.
For those of us who embrace a version of the just war theory, honed carefully over the centuries of Christian tradition, our response is disciplined by belief that war itself is tragic and that all killing in war, even in self-defense, must be treated with sobriety and even mournfulness. War and all of its killing reflects the brokenness of our world. That is the proper spirit with which to greet this news.
This event does provide new opportunities for our nation.
President Obama’s respectful treatment of Islam in his remarks, and his declaration that Osama bin Laden’s body was treated with respect according to Islamic custom, offers all of us an opportunity to follow that example and turn away from the rising disrespect toward Muslims in our nation.
A second opportunity is for the United States to reconsider the questionable moves we have made in the name of the war on terror. From our perspective, this includes the indefinite detentions of scores of men at Guantanamo Bay, the failure to undertake an official investigation of detainee interrogation practices, the increase in Predator attacks in Pakistan, and the expansion rather than ending of the ten-year-old war in Afghanistan.
We also now have the opportunity for national reflection on how our broader military and foreign policies — including the placement of our troops throughout the largely Muslim Arab world, our posture on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and our regular military interventions around the world, create a steady supply of new enemies.
There can never be any moral justification for terrorist attacks on innocent people, such as the terrible deeds of 9/11. But we must recognize that to the extent that our nation’s policies routinely create enemies, we can kill a Bin Laden on May 1 and face ten more like him on May 2. Might it now be possible for us to have an honest national conversation about these issues?
May we learn the right lessons from the news of this day. For Jesus’ sake.
~ David P. Gushee