Gratitude is maybe the sweetest sadness of all. Leonard Cohen has died at the age of 82, having been, to so many of us, an unaccountable blessing, and I can’t seem to stop crying, and have no wish to. His songs connected so many things for us, and will continue to do so for the ages that remain. He touched inexpressible mysteries in his exquisitely unorthodox way and it all somehow gave glory to God, even as he was always willing to give hell to God, and it was the only thing he knew, in the end, and boy did he know it: “Blessed is the Name.”
Just about three weeks ago he spoke on the subject of the Hebrew word Hineni, the key refrain of one of his last songs, “You Want It Darker,” a word that expresses the notion “Here I am,” a word as recorded in the Bible spoken by Abraham when the LORD sought him out and then asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac, and the same word as spoken by Isaac’s descendant Moses when the LORD called to him from the burning bush to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Leonard has an incredible humility regarding his own tradition when he speaks of these things with what are some of his final breaths.
“I don’t really know the genesis, the origin — that Hineni — that declaration of readiness no matter what the outcome, that’s a part of everyone’s soul. We all are motivated by deep impulses and deep appetites to serve, even though we may not be able to locate that which we are willing to serve. So, this is just a part of my nature, and I think everybody else’s nature, to offer oneself at the moment, at the critical moment when the emergency becomes articulate. It’s only when the emergency becomes articulate that we can locate that willingness to serve.”
Let it be forever known that Leonard Cohen served through the emergency. May his memory be for a blessing.
Thank you, Leonard, for getting us singing. Thank you, Lord. Hallelujah.