the holy or the broken

Posted on January 28, 2015


“Leonard Cohen said the song represented absolute surrender in a situation you cannot fix or dominate, that sometimes it means saying, ‘I don’t fucking know what’s going on, but it can still be beautiful.’” (Colin Frangicetto about the song Hallelujah)


Love is not a victory march

It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

broken hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah


It’s not a cry you can hear at night

It’s not somebody who has seen the light

It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah


Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah


I did my best, it wasn’t much

I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch

I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you

And even though it all went wrong

I’ll stand before the Lord of Song

With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

(lyrics from Leonard Cohen’s song, Hallelujah)

For eight years, I’ve been writing the deepest thoughts of my heart, trying to find a voice for what was making less and less sense. I’m finding that the deeper I go, the more honest I become, the more clarity I seek; the more words escape me, the harder it is to write. I feel sort of like Cohen when he said about writing the song Hallelujah that during the five years it took to write the song, he found himself on his knees on the floor beating his head against the floor crying, “I can never finish this song!”

I think that “sense-making” is our way of polishing and domesticating what we are given. We have been conditioned to think that things are only useful to us if we can make sense of them. So rather than immersing ourselves into the struggle, into the pain, into the shadows, the darkness, the realities of life; we pull back, we protect ourselves from the discomfort of life’s realities, and we pretend to “make sense” of things. We whitewash the broken fences of our lives. And we turn from that which does not give us comfort and security and certainty; our gods of the age.

The book, “The Holy or the Broken” is about the inspiration behind the song Hallelujah. It inspired me to write this also. I’m sensing that this is not an either-or thing. It is a both-and thing.

Holiness is not about polishing, domesticating, whitewashing.

Holiness is not about comfort, security, or certainty.

Holiness is brokenness period.

Heartbreak that leaves the heart broken open and bleeding.

Heartbreak that opens us up to fully experience life.

Heartbreak that opens us up to each other.

Not comfort, but discomfort and the risk of love.

Not security, but the recognition that everything is temporal.

Not certainty, but embracing the confusion and chaos of mystery.

Not being right and making others wrong.

Not understanding, but kneeling.

Not sense-making, but falling prostrate.

Not whitewashing but facing with brutal honesty the realities of my life and all of my assumptions, misunderstandings, prejudices, addictions. Rather than seeing the depth and extent of our own conditioning that has overturned the ancient wisdom of the soul; we escape into our own addictions that create comfort, security, and certainty. Very subtle addictions that loom in our homes everyday; media, politics, religious talk. Technology that allows us to “know” from our easy chairs, without getting our hands dirty in real life with real people.

Instead of theological sense-making, holiness is solidarity with the human condition, with the beauty of the human struggle. Holiness is not running or turning away from the pain and the realities of life. Holiness is immersing ourselves fully, in solidarity, in the margins of society.

Until we take the time and put forth the effort to do the work it takes to become a “friend of ‘sinners’”; an ally, a neighbor of the outcasts, the outliers, the invisible, the poor, the “aliens”, the “orphans and widows”, the atheists, the agnostics, and the pagans; we will never see the Kingdom of God here on earth. We will spend our lives worshipping polished and domesticated words that we call theology; as we immerse ourselves in our illusory, self-created, self defined bubble of comfort, security, and certainty; as we create god in our own image.


Participating in privilege in turn makes us directly complicit in oppression. But this is, of course, conveniently invisible from within our bubble.

I’m tired of conjuring up a life, a religion, a politics based on what I’m told by the powerful and the privileged.

I’d rather sing a broken hallelujah… from a heart broken open to experience all of life; the pain and the suffering, the joy and the dancing, the wonder and the mystery.