If you’ve been following along here or on social media, you’ve likely noticed that poems have been the theme as of late, especially April. Here in Minnesota, it was a cold spring, and I was at what would be the close of a very long struggle with persistent illness – not the sort of illness that leaves you bedridden or enduring invasive treatments, just the kind that leaves you cranky, lethargic, and wondering if this is just how it’s going to be from now on. I would start to feel better and then another round of fatigue or coughing or some other infection or allergy would invade and the cycle would start all over again. It felt like I had too many things to manage, that things were too hard, that there were too many projects and work commitments and responsibilities — and not enough energy for it all. I wanted to feel like life was simple, and I was tired of not feeling like myself.
So I started writing one poem a day in a journal – just the things that were on my mind – no perfecting, no agonizing over the quality, just jotting down whatever words came through the pen that particular day. Poems were the right length, and their simplicity and brevity seemed like something that my life at the time needed. Some I typed up and shared, and several others remain simple ink on paper musings.
I wanted to claim the story that was mine, whatever that turned out being, even if it wasn’t what I would have chosen in an ideal world, and short arrangements of words seemed to somehow help with doing that.
I ended up writing a lot of poems. And these lyrics by Leonard Cohen seemed to fit the vibe:
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the lord of song
With nothing on my tongue but hallelujah
You could say we are all broken, but then again, you could say we are all part of a collective hallelujah, and that might be closer to the truth. The world is made of stories, which are made of words, spoken or not, and all stories can be interpreted and told differently. It depends on the lens through which we see the world and the languages we speak. But whatever stories we are in right now and however we are interacting with the stories that are swirling around us, perhaps we all need an invitation to claim the stories that make us who we are.
So, a broken hallelujah it sometimes might be, but it’s a hallelujah and that’s what matters. I think an invitation of sorts is in order, one that invites a person to:
Claim the stories that invite peace. Claim the stories that create a more beautiful world, whatever beauty looks and feels like to you right now. Claim the right to choose the things that call instead of the things that beckon or taunt. Claim the clarity that listening to the deep and still parts of yourself can offer. Claim the stories that originate in your soul, the stories that bind you to the earth as part of one universal body, the stories that proclaim your (sometimes fractured) human radiance in ways that the wind and the rain and the morning sun can understand.
This is certainly not a simple invitation to accept. Claiming is not an easy task, just like telling a true story can be the most challenging feat of a lifetime. But perhaps acknowledging and giving voice to the story that is ours is the first step – something that has to happen to shore up the foundation for a beautiful way of being in the world. We all have a door into the story which is ours to embody and proclaim. It may be broken, or off its hinges, or hidden behind weeds, but it’s there and worthy of a hallelujah.