“My sins would drive the nails in You,
That rugged cross was my cross, too.
Still every breath You drew was Hallelujah.”
(Cloverton, “A Hallelujah Christmas”)
Holidays are truly a bittersweet time for many of us. The joy of hustling and bustling in preparation for the annual ritual with head bowed to its immense symbolism is juxtaposed with keeping a shoulder pressed hard against a figurative closed door behind which needs be stashed all the painful, breath-taking emotions that inevitably rise from a palpable, aching missing of sweet, beloved souls that will no longer greet the Son/Sun with us in physical form again.
It’s a selfish thing, this missing; particularly for those of us whose faith assures there is so much more to what is called “life” than meets our physical eye. But being only human we can’t help but occasionally give in to it.
As long-time readers know, Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is inexorably tangled up with the losses of my beloved furry soulmate, Sunny, and later my heart-sister, Nonda. To this day I avoid listening to it since the memories and feelings it brings simply remain too painful to bear any kind of scrutiny. The Christmas season brings tears of its own, more hopeful and inspired kind; the beautiful classic “O Holy Night” being #1 on the “Hand me a tissue, please,” holiday hit list.
Apparently Someone decided without consulting me or even giving me a heads up that it would be a merry little idea to merge my two different kinds of tears into a single, powerful package. Being somewhat brave but a lot more curious, when a link appeared in my email this morning, I put on my headphones and, admittedly, steeled myself for a listen.
I then spent the next half hour sobbing out my heart’s sorrows.
It’s one thing to re-record someone else’s material, it’s altogether another to rewrite it; particularly a song that may legitimately be said to be among the greatest pieces penned by the last generation. Such bold nerve rarely goes over as well as the original but this is a rare and shining gem of an exception. It speaks to our lives in this world on so many levels. And while the last way I wanted to start this holy-day was with tears, there is now a decided feeling of release and, dare I even type the words, a subtle and underlying feeling of joy for having had the experience of this song.
And so I give it to you now. My little gift to all of you who continue to hold fast and believe that, always and no matter what, life is good.
“A Hallelujah Christmas” by Cloverton from Ross Wooten on Vimeo.