I recently saw a reference to a large-scale survey from Cigna, the healthcare provider, indicating that most Americans suffer from strong feelings of loneliness and a lack of significance in their relationships. Loneliness and isolation that can, at their worst, turn deadly toward oneself or others, and feed the partisan fractures that crisscross our nation.
It’s a dark reality in this season when, each day, the sun rises a bit later and sets a bit earlier than the day before, and when the hearts of many are dimmed with loneliness or the sorrow of loss. It is also a time when diverse faith communities share ancient stories, songs and rituals of light that call us afresh into memory and celebration, community and service to others.
Not infrequently in recent months, I have found myself rehearsing a refrain from the late, gravelly-voiced Leonard Cohen:
ring the bells that still can ring
forget your perfect offering
there’s a crack in everything
that’s how the light gets in
We who are members of the Habitat Newburgh community are light-bringers, in seasons when days or hope diminish, as well as when they increase. We “crack open” derelict houses and break open plots of earth and discard outworn indifference to those who may be different from ourselves. And that’s how light gets in—the light of self-reliance and renewed neighborhoods, of families’ lives transformed and the healing of a wounded-yet-wondrous city. We help power the porch-light of welcome, the hearth-light of home, the rekindling of community.
Our offerings may not be perfect (although we always measure twice), but through us light shines in darkness and bells of gratitude still ring.
My colleagues and friends, in this season—amid its darkness and its light—ring the bells you still can ring, give thanks for light, whether glimpsed or glorious, and let it seep through cracks, carols, and candle flame so that others may also rejoice.
All good wishes to you and those whom you hold dear,
Rev. Deke Spierling