"There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in." We have to start there, don't we, Leonard?
He was 82 years of age and had just released a new album. Critics raved about the album and noted how dark it was, how steeped in death and endings it was. It doesn't take much imagination to wonder if Leonard saw his own death coming and simply gave us this recording as an epitaph.
I found out about the songwriter’s death just before our chapel service at school.
Last night at Church Divinity School of The Pacific in Berkeley, Calif., theology professor, Scott MacDougall, preached a sermon in commemoration of Leo the Great. He spoke of the saint's theology. He spoke of the saint's political accomplishments in negotiating peace. MacDougal spoke about how peace never comes easy. He spoke of the discipline of living into peace even when all around you do not want it.
Professor MacDougall reminded us that, "it is all too easy to salt the earth than it is to be salt of the earth."
There is a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in. Everything. Everything has cracks and faults and our best intentions to bring peace and love and justice to the world is cracked. Flawed. To do the work of peace, MacDougall reminded us, is to do the work of repentance, lament, praise and ... getting up and doing the work.
I have to confess that I did not know that I knew Leonard Cohen's work for as long as I knew Leonard Cohen's work. Everyone talks about Bob Dylan and his incredible discography. As well they should. And the two musicians were often compared to one another. Incredible talents. But Cohen has always sung better for me.
You got me singing
Even though the world is gone
You got me thinking
I'd like to carry on.
Dirt. Sweat. Sin. Sex. All the grossness of life laid at our feet by a growling prophet. He doesn't ask us to love it. He doesn't ask us to redeem it. He simply shows us who we are and asks us to sing. Repentance, lament, and praise were ever his themes.
I will miss his example. Especially now.
American politics have always been about purity. American exceptionalism demands it. Our theocratic colonial beginning as a nation demands it. Cohen, on the other hand, had no interest in purity. Cohen wanted to know you and wanted you to know you.
Perhaps the year 2016 will go down in history as the year that our prophets died. It'll go down as the year that the truth tellers died as we collectively embraced our "post-truth" political identity.
It's impossible to repent when every ideology is just somebody's opinion. Lamentation falls on deaf ears. Praise is empty.
The truth of the world is that there is a crack in everything. This is how the light of truth gets in. I will miss Leonard Cohen and his prophetic wisdom.
Who now will sing the truth?