by Christine Sine
Several years ago, I wrote a post Stay Close to the Cracks which was inspired by Leonard Cohen’s song Anthem. Yesterday I was revisiting that post and realized how very pertinent it, and Cohen’s song, are for today. There are so many cracks in our society – cracks in the social fabric that have made us aware of the horrible treatment of our African American friends, not just in the past, but in the present too. Black Lives Matter, we cry out convinced in the depths of our souls that we need to change and that our society needs to change.
Then there are the cracks in our economic and health care systems as we all struggle with the impact of a worldwide pandemic on our lives, and the economic structure of our society. Some have already lost family members, others have lost jobs and homes and still more live in the fear of what could come in the next few months.
Cracks Give Us Hope
We need to let the light shine through, so that we know how to respond without becoming casualties of our fears and all the pressures that are on us. Leonard Cohen’s prophetic voice still challenges us today as he reminds us that there is indeed a crack in everything but this is not a reason for despair but rather for hope because this is indeed how the light gets in. Similarly in Eager to Love, Richard Rohr comments that St Francis of Assisi asked us to stay close to the cracks in the social fabric of our world. It is a thought worth reflecting on.
It is in fact this thought that has encouraged me to look at the cracks in the pavement as I walk, to see what is growing and what has responded to the light – the plants we call weeds, the plants we want to root up and get rid of. We don’t want anything growing in the pavement cracks that will disturb the neat and ordered pattern of our lives. We don’t want pandemics and racism to grow in the cracks. We don’t always want to see the light.
Everything in our lives and in our world has cracks, wounds and broken places that tell of pain and suffering. Sometimes we try to cover them over, attempting to seal them off from the light. But this only makes them fester and get worse like a boil on our skin that needs to be lanced.
Yet it is in the cracks, the broken places of our lives and world, where violence flares and pain cries out that healing also happens. When we acknowledge injustice and the pain it causes, we take the first step towards wholeness. It is into the cracks that light can shine and water can seep. It is in the cracks in the concrete that seeds can lodge, germinate and take root. And as green shoots reach for the sky, the crack enlarges, the concrete crumbles and what was meant to live and breathe thrives once more.
How Do You Respond to the Cracks?
Sit quietly in the presence of God, allowing the love of the holy and ever present One to wash over you. Read through the prayer above several times. What cracks in your world, what places of woundedness and vulnerability that give you ongoing pain come to mind? In what ways have you tried to cover these over, perhaps with a facade of laughter or with a semblance of respectability? Or as the pandemic still rages, are you responding by pretending it isn’t happening and risking your life and of those around you by not wearing masks or social distancing? Are there ways you respond, perhaps with fear, or anger or intolerance that show these are festering? Perhaps there are things you need to confess or seek forgiveness for. Offer these up to God in prayer.
Now think of the light that has shone into those cracks. Where have you seen glimmers of God’s wholeness? What has it begun to give life to? Are you aware of green shoots emerging towards the sun? How could you nurture their growth and make help them to thrive?
As I walk our neighbourhood, I notice several rain wise gardens on my route. What was once a solid concrete slab in some places has now been transformed into gardens that channel the water into the topsoil and down into the water table where the water can accumulate and provide for future dry periods. Even our church has become rain wise so that the rain from their huge roof no longer creates a flood of water that overflows the drains and clogs the waterways.
Sometimes when we stay close to the cracks we realize that they need to be nurtured and strengthened to rebuild the fabric of our lives and our society. And as we nurture these it is not only the surface life that thrives but it is the deep wellsprings of the water table that flourishes too.
What is your response?
Read through the prayer above again. What slabs of pavement are you aware of in your life and society that need to be broken up with gardens? Is there something the spirit of God is prompting you to do that could help accomplish this?
Now listen to Leonard Cohen sing Anthem and allow the spirit of God to stir your imagination. Is there another response God is asking of you?