It is so easy when life get stuck in rough patches to focus solely on what is going wrong. It is easy to allow the imperfection around you define who you are. It is easy to allow the darkness to over take you.
And this looks a lot like hiding. It looks like crawling in your bed and not wanting to come out for days. It looks like dissociating yourself from the community– a few good friends– that can really support you. It looks like believing that your life is over. Really over.
But then there is another way.
And Leonard Cohen lays it out for us.
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”
Several years ago, I was talking with a friend who was going through a difficult time. She was struggling to “move on” from what everyone said she should have been over months before. But, as she made progress through here pain, step by step as I wrote about last week there came a moment when she began to transition toward the light. She began to see things around her differently.
One afternoon she told me over coffee: “I feel like over the course of this year my heart has been broken deeper than I’ve ever known, at a deep, deep level. But at the same time, I’ve felt more seen and loved by a few of you than I’ve ever imagined either.”
She then took a breath and then went on, “So I’m thinking that sometimes the only way that real love can deep down deep inside of us is for our heart to be cracked open. And through the pain, love now has room to seep into me and live where nothing used to dwell.”
All I could say was wow! Breakthrough.
My friend went on: “I hate this pain, you know, but I’m learning to let the light in because of this darkness.”
We are all cracked in some way.
The question is: are we are going to keep ringing the bells, even the broken ones?
We are all hurting.
The question is: are we vulnerable enough to be able to say, “I am not well” so that our offering, though how imperfect it is might be used for something greater?
We all know darkness.
The question is: do we believe that love can even transform the parts of us most shattered?
We all have bells to ring.
As we keep going and keep ringing our bells, the light can get in. Shining beam by beam. Illuminating stride by stride. Radiating moment by moment.
Hope is born and others just might start singing along with us too.