Tuesday, 9 April 2013

That’s how the light gets in #SH2013

Arrived home from this year’s Spring Harvest at Minehead after a surprisingly smooth journey to discover Essex is much warmer than Somerset. As in previous years, I’ve been reflecting on some of the memorable quotes that I picked up from speakers. The theme The Source: Be, Say, Do was in some ways a back to basics focus.

Gerard Kelly led the Bible readings each day on 1 John and did an excellent job of opening up the text and relating it to life, mission and ministry today. In my last blog post I mentioned something that Gerard said during the first evening Big Top celebration talk which stirred up much discussion with some of my twitter pals. One of the characteristics I’ve always enjoyed about Gerard’s talks is his use of imagery, poetry and music to open up a thought or insight and this year he didn’t disappoint. Referring to 1 John 1:8 ‘If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us…’ Gerard spoke about the brokenness at the heart of each of us and he then quoted this chorus from Leonard Cohen’s song Anthem:
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.
This beautiful lyric stayed with me throughout my time at SH and I’ve been doing some reading around it. The song is complex and took Cohen a long time to write. In various interviews he has sought to explain the lengthy period of the composition and its meaning. This is what he had to say about the chorus in 1992:
...That is the background of the whole record, I mean if you have to come up with a philosophical ground, that is "Ring the bells that still can ring". It's no excuse...the dismal situation.. and the future is no excuse for an abdication of your own personal responsibilities towards 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 is the hang-up that you're gonna work this thing out. Because we confuse this idea and we've forgotten the central myth of our culture which is the expulsion from the garden of Eden. This situation does not admit of solution of perfection. This is not the place where you make things perfect, neither in your marriage, nor in your work, nor anything, nor your love of God, nor your love of family or country. 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. But that's where the light gets in, and that's where the resurrection is and that's where the return, that's where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things. (from ‘The Future Radio Special’).


1 comment:

Jonathan Evens said...

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Corinthians 4. 6 & 7)

Clay jars crack, so the light that is within is, in this image, shining through the cracks in the clay.

Another angle on Cohen's line, perhaps?