My fellow blogger Barb posted a link on Facebook to a youtube video for Dance Me to the End of Love by Leonard Cohen.
I've loved this song for many years, and was delighted to see the video link on FB. One of the comments left on this youtube video was: "You awaken my soul Mr.Cohen..." I echo that thought...Mr. Cohen does awaken the soul. I read that Cohen had this to say about about the song:
'Dance Me To The End Of Love' ... it's curious how songs begin because the origin of the song, every song, has a kind of grain or seed that somebody hands you or the world hands you and that's why the process is so mysterious about writing a song. But that came from just hearing or reading or knowing that in the death camps, beside the crematoria, in certain of the death camps, a string quartet was pressed into performance while this horror was going on, those were the people whose fate was this horror also. And they would be playing classical music while their fellow prisoners were being killed and burnt. So, that music, "Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin," meaning the beauty there of being the consummation of life, the end of this existence and of the passionate element in that consummation. But, it is the same language that we use for surrender to the beloved, so that the song -- it's not important that anybody knows the genesis of it, because if the language comes from that passionate resource, it will be able to embrace all passionate activity.
What a thought provoking statement: "it's not important that anybody knows the genesis of it, because if the language comes from that passionate resource, it will be able to embrace all passionate activity." I often feel that way about the language of the Bible. There have been times in the Cafe Soul gatherings at my church when other participants have been so tenaciously focussed on the historical accuracy of place and people that I have tuned out of the discussion. For me, it is not the literal facts of the stories, but the metaphors within, that inform my faith, shape my life, and lead me into deeper relationship with God and my community. I realize having a sense of the historical accuracy and background is often necessary in order to set the stories in a meaningful context...and to gain a sense of what is the universal grain of truth in the story. I acknowledge that history is a very important layer of our sacred story and yes, I am keen to explore it in my studies as a way of adding depth to my knowledge. But when in the presence of those who are intent on establishing literal *fact* to the exclusion of all else, I want to nudge them toward finding meaning in the myths in addition to simply pinning place names on a map or dates on a timeline.
After I wrote the above, I picked up the bible that was sitting on the table by my elbow, flipped a few pages and right away my eye caught this passage (Romans 12:2):
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God - what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Do I need to know the genesis of this language, know precisely when it was written and what was going on in Rome at the time in order for Paul's message to hold meaning? No. Instead I ask myself what do these words say to me...right now, in my world, in my lifetime? And, to me, it speaks about not conforming to the social structures, the divisions, the materiality of the world...but instead trying to live in right relationship with each other and with God. What is "good and acceptable and perfect" surely cannot be the current status quo of our broken world...massive accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of the few, while far too many others live in extreme poverty. Which imbalance drives pretty much all of the violence and injustice in the world, in my opinion. I don't have the solution to resetting our status quo...but the first step for me is to open myself to change. I think one of the biggest hurdles is that feeling of being helpless...that feeling of what can I possibly do that would make a difference? I keep reminding myself that every small act counts. So instead of being paralyzed into inaction, I offer what I can of my time, my money, my talents. I answer God's call to ministry (although I realize a path involving church is not for everyone...especially the atheists in our midst, like my husband!) But there are innumerable ways to make a difference in our world...we just need to move ourselves to action of some kind.
Pause before making that next "want to have" purchase, and think about what that amount of money could do for a village in a developing country or for those who have lost everything to disaster...instead of spending an evening at the movies, go serve at a soup kitchen...get involved in a charity drive at work...join Kiva and make small loans that transform lives...join Amnesty International and work to protect human rights...support any number of organizations that provide aid and support to people close to home and around the world...offer to paint a local shelter...lead a youth group and find yourself transformed by their enthusiasm, generosity and passion for making our world a better place. The steps we can take toward changing the status quo are endless and varied.
Let your soul be awakened. Let your light shine.
Go make a difference in the world!