Every year, I choose a word for the year. This has typically been a fun exercise and it helped me stay focused through the year. 2020 was, well, an exception. I gave up on my word by March. I don't even remember now what it was.
One thing has stayed pretty constant for me this year. I am absolutely fixated on Leonard Cohen's song, Hallelujah. When I'm having a stressful day, I go to YouTube and find my favorite version (KD Lang) and listen to it until I feel my muscles let go and relax.
The lyrics haven't made a lot of sense to me, but they still struck something within me. Last night, I listened to a lit professor dissect them, and I suddenly realized the beauty that has been there, that has drawn me to it.
First thing is that Cohen used a word that generally has religious meaning in a secular way. In this song, a hallelujah is any kind of celebration.
The second thing, and this is what is magic to me, is that hallelujahs should not be saved for miraculous happenings. The song says "And Love is not a victory march, it's a cold and it's a broken hallelujah."
What this means to me is that in the middle of brokenness, imperfection, and a pandemic that is stealing our joy every day, we must still find the hallelujah. We must still cry it out, even if it doesn't feel like much of a celebration to us as we do. in fact, I believe it's more important to claim our hallelujah moments in these days of despair and death.
Yesterday, the first thing that came up in my browser was this picture of the Hallelujah Mountain from Avatar, which is a real place in China.
These stone pillars are amazing. Imagine the erosion forces that have been exerted against them, that have in fact stripped away the stone around them. This is the very image of a broken hallelujah.
So that's what I'll be doing this year. I'll be looking for hallelujahs in another broken year.