As I read another blogger’s posting a couple of days ago, I was introduced to a lyric by Leonard Cohen that has reverberated in me since first reading it. Cohen’s lyrics often echo with haunting truths that are not easily passed over or set aside, and this is one of those for me.
The lyric is from “Anthem.”
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
Having first read these lines outside the context of the song, they took on a personal dimension that perhaps Cohen never imagined as he penned them. They are part of a larger mosaic that cannot be appreciated by standing so close. But that was my vantage point when I first encountered them. Close. And they spoke a profound truth.
How is it that light invades my heart? How have I begun to believe the depth of God’s grace, mercy, and unfailing love? What has allowed the truth of who God is to cross that often stubbornly impassable bridge between my head and my heart? What allows light into the darkest areas of my soul to begin transforming me from the inside?
How will that truth change me today? Will my shame of those cracks drive me to cover them or draw attention away from them by the maelström of activities and noise I can so easily create in my life?
Recently I have found great rest in three words repeated often so far in my reading of Isaiah, a book that has some rather unsettling scenes. They appear at some of the most unsettling moments for me as I read of God’s wrath and justice. Suddenly, there they are, right in the context of great turmoil and upheaval. And just as suddenly, I find myself longing for fulfillment of that deep desire that has gnawed at man’s soul since separation from his Creator – and hope stirs in me.
In that day…
In that day the Lord of Heaven’s Armies
will spread a wonderful feast
for all the people of the world.
It will be a delicious banquet
with clear, well-aged wine and choice meat.
There he will remove the cloud of gloom,
the shadow of death that hangs over the earth.
He will swallow up death forever!
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away all tears.
He will remove forever all insults and mockery
against his land and people.
The Lord has spoken!
In that day the people will proclaim,
“This is our God!
We trusted in him, and he saved us!
This is the Lord, in whom we trusted.
Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!”
Isaiah 25:6-9 (New Living Translation)
You know those moments when you suddenly are face to face with a profound truth that has come in a most unexpected moment from a most surprising source? Those moments when you’re not really looking for it? Sometimes it’s buried in a song lyric. Sometimes in a most unlikely movie. Sometimes it’s in the middle of a angry outburst. And sometimes, somehow, appears in the middle of the chaos of a day, and you find yourself instantly transported to the middle of the spinning platter you’ve been hanging onto?
A very wise friend once said to me, “Never be surprised where you find Truth, because Grace has preceded you everywhere.”
I was challenged to examine how I live each day when I saw this video.
And today I’m asking myself again, “What might it be to live in the present with such expectation that unexpected and unlikely moments weren’t?”
Every nerve ending of the body’s largest organ comes alive as one walks into that wall of 52-degree, fog-laden air upon leaving the house on any given summer day in San Francisco. To be present in that moment reminds one of the wonder of the human experience. It’s a unique “aliveness” yet to be matched here in Tennessee, though walking into the 4 degree wind chill early this morning certainly shocked the senses – not so much a “coming alive” sensation as one of pain and near numbness.
There are, indeed, a handful of foggy days here in Tennessee each year, but it’s a fog more akin to the output from an outdated stage fog machine. The fog of San Francisco, however, can often be observed as a ginormous tsunami rolling toward the western shores of the city. Sometimes stalling for hours just offshore, it is a thick, weighty substance that doesn’t just hang in the air. It becomes the air. And breathing it deeply is one of the gifts of life in the Bay Area. As the thick fog bank rolls over the city, the world takes on a mysterious, two-dimensional characteristic. The edge of the universe closes in, sometimes creating a solitaire protected by penetrable walls within arms reach.
There are activities that range from fun to ill-advised that many who grow up in San Francisco enjoy when the fog rolls in, e.g.,
- Losing sight of the football as it spirals or tumbles (you never know which) toward you after a kickoff or pass. It’s a great test of reaction time when it suddenly emerges into view. For that matter, playing quarterback and losing sight of your receiver in the fog, bringing new import to trusting them to run their route and throwing to a spot. And forget about reading the coverage!
- Playing a round of golf. This is the ultimate test of keeping your head down and feeling the shot. Every opportunity for a second shot is a surprise, and if you should be lucky enough to have a third, fourth, and fifth shot before finding the ball on the green it brings a sense of what it must feel like to share the lead at The Masters on Sunday morning.
- And driving? Well, it’s a bit like Russian Roulette. The experience of having to open the driver’s door to see and follow the painted line on the highway is an experience never to be forgotten. To survive it unscathed is a rush no less euphoric, I imagine, than reaching the summit of Mt. Everest! Following a lane marker is too easy, you say? Ok, you’ve not thought about the adventure of having to find your way off the highway via an invisible off-ramp that you know is somewhere out there, and having to let go of the security of that lane marker for what seems like an eternity before picking up the new line leading you off the interstate. No line? Welcome to the ditch.
I’m tempted to suggest you haven’t lived until you’ve experienced days like this. It’s about embracing confusion, helplessness, fear, disorientation, risk, mortality, and ultimately, the illusion of control, all the while clinging to the hope that keeps you moving and living large.
Here’s to living large in 2010!