How the light gets in
Lawrence Moore says farewell and thank you to Leonard Cohen
We passionately grateful recipients of Cohen’s gift all have stories of how the love affair started. Mine was understanding for the first time what grace really means. It happened when I heard him sing the refrain from ‘Anthem’:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack – a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in
I hear that last line as: ‘That’s how the Light gets in’. And the hairs on my arms and neck stand stiffly to attention in an instant, and there are lights going on like fireworks because I ‘get’ with all my heart and mind and soul his point – that our brokenness and imperfection aren’t the barrier that keeps God out; they are the door through which God comes in.
In an instant, I’m released from the tyranny of the appalling tension of being a sinful human being in the presence of a holy God who can only cope with perfection. It isn’t that God is less holy, or that I am any less broken: it is that God is gracious and draws near freely in love and salvation in the midst of my brokenness.
Of course, Paul said it years ago, but Leonard brought it to life in a new way. Cohen the Ashkenazi Jew and Zen Buddhist monk with a long history of depression and a lifelong spiritual thirst has written what I find to be the most theologically nourishing and Christian of songs (hymns?).
Leonard Cohen died peacefully in his home in Los Angeles on 7 November 2016. He was laid to rest with a Jewish rite in a simple pine casket on a family plot in Montreal, according to his wishes. His 14th and final studio album, You Want It Darker, had been released just three weeks earlier, to critical acclaim…
Lawrence Moore is a church mission and discipleship consultant
This is an extract from the February 2017 edition of Reform.