The content and opinions expressed in this blog are mine. They do not represent the US Government or US Peace Corps - Jud Dolphin

Wednesday, December 7

That's How The Light Gets In...

All Souls Church, Unitarian
My friend, Darryl says, “Wanna check it out sometime?” He's been going to a Unitarian Church on 16th Street. It's a tall steeple one and got organized in 1821 when the United States was still a young country. 

We make arrangements for the Sunday following the election...on a day when the nation is deeply divided.

I'm stunned to see the place packed. It's not what you expect to see in a church these days. Usually this place holds about 1500 people on the main floor and wrap-a-round balcony. But on this particular Sunday, it's bursting with about 2000.

Even more, I'm shocked to hear the minister's sermon...interrupted by a standing ovation lasting several minutes. 

Never have I seen or heard such a thing. It's unbelievable to see so many people roaring their approval.

What stirs such deep emotions is the minister's call for the congregation to be true to its history.

As best as I can recall he says, “We are people of sanctuary. We have given support to gay and lesbian human right seekers, war resisters, run-a-way slaves and more. For all of them, we were a place of sanctuary. 

"Now there's coming a time when we may need to be preparing again...for immigrants, refugees, Native Americans, Muslims, people of color, trans-gendered people and others who are dispossessed.”

I feel like I'm in the right place and glad to add my own applause to the cacophony.

A few Sundays later the worship service is centered on hope. A Blues singer belts out Leonard Cohen's marvelous song, Anthem. 

Leonard Cohen Performing
"The song took ten years to write. There's not a line in it that I could not defend. I delayed it's birth for so long because it wasn't right or appropriate or true or it was too easy or ideas were too fast or too fuss, but the way it is now, it deserves to be born.

It stands for something clear and strong in my heart.

The meaning in the chorus is the background of the whole record: 'Ring the bells that still can ring.' It's no excuse for this dismal situation...and the future is no excuse for abdication of your own personal responsibilities toward yourself and your job and your love.

Ring the Bells that still can ring. They're few and far between, but you can find them.

Forget your perfect offering.  That's a hang-up that you're gonna to work this thing out. This situation does not admit to a solution of perfection. This is not a place where you make things perfection - your marriage, nor in your work, nor in your love of God, nor in your love of family or country.

There's a crack in everything.  The thing is imperfect. And worse, there is a crack in everything that you can put together – physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind.

That's how the light gets in.  But that's where the light gets in, and that's where resurrection is and that's where the return to repentance is...with the brokenness of things."

Maybe it's just me being in this place at this time, but the song brings a lump to my throat. When I glance at the woman next to me tearing up, I join her. I think our emotions come from a sacred place.

Leonard Cohen is most known for his song, Hallelujah.  It's been sung around the world by many pop-artists. Its enigmatic lyrics give a pause to everyday. Learn more about Leonard Cohen.

This time the sermon is not interrupted with cheers, but it's timely for a nation divided and losing hope.

The minister re-frames the quest for hope. He says that hope is not like waiting for a gift to be wrapped up with a bow and dropped in our laps.  Rather hope is active. It's something we give our lives to each day and week, month and year. I'm thinking - to make the nation a kinder, gentler and more just place to live one step at a time.

It's just like the Old Testament Prophet, Micah, urged so long ago – “What does the Lord require, but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God.”

I write this post in hopes that it might give you opportunities to think deeply.

After all, living is more than household projects, emails and deadlines. We need encouragement from one another and a new vision of a nation healing old fears, suspicions and hatreds. 

Together we do what we can with what we have.  And we create hope.  

1 comment:

  1. The prayer and congregation is the time when we feel that we are all united by the love for God. He is the one who give peace and love in hearts.