Thursday, February 25, 2010

Broken Hallelujah

 Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.

It's been used in everything from Shrek to House and sung by everyone except my next door neighbor's niece's cousin-by-marriage's brother-in-law.

At least I don't think he did.

.Overused, cliche, cheap meme to suggest depth and poignancy?  Maybe.  But I think it's love.

When you--when I--fall in love, anything, everything is an excuse to talk about the loved one.  Air?  Did I mention He breathes air?  Milk?  Too easy with a new baby. Shoes?  My grandson takes his shoes off when he comes in the house. "Gotta hand it to you...."  My grand daughter has two. Hands, I mean.  Love is physical, visceral, the longing to taste a name on your lips, to bring them into every moment and space you occupy.

Poetry, music, a voice, the line of a dancer, beauty in all its guises is the same.  The song plays you, the words write you.

Love  You can love a piece of  music with the same yearning to possess and be possessed as any other love..

Jeff Beck's Hallelujah plays my heart, grieves and elates me.  When Cohen sings, I whisper the words with my lips and in my mind: it's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah...And even though/It all went wrong/I'll stand before the Lord of Song/With nothing on my lips but Hallelujah.

I hold my lover close, trace the curve of his cheek, the line of his shoulder, play my fingers down his spine, my body bends to his.  Love is not a victory march/It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah. I know this.  I listen to him breathe, listen as I listened to my children, standing by their beds. Breathe, breathing with them, one breath follow another.


All breath stops.  It's a simple bare boned fact. They leave us, we leave them. Fact.

You always disappoint the ones you love.  Not every day, not all the time, but as inevitably as rain will come, you will hurt the ones you love. You can't unring the bell, if you rip your tongue out, the words can't be unsaid, 3:00 AM tears, and a thousand nights of kneeling on broken glass will not change one moment.

And--why should I even bother to say it?--the ones you love will disappoint you, hurt you, rip your heart out and samba on it with a partner.

The world itself will break your heart.

The poem on paper will never be what you wrote in your mind and the music you play will never be what you heard

And yet. And yet...there is the poem, a lover's touch, the baby's diaper may stink, but there is the intoxicating scent of baby, the soft gloriousness of a baby's skin.  The sunrise over Haleakala  flames with colors even if you're shivering in a jacket that isn't as warm as you thought and you the coffee's lukewarm and tastes like bad instant and the rock you're sitting on is cold--and besides rock is, well, hard as rock.

The is-ness of it all. 

Pirouettes and pratfalls.

And so  Hallelujah with every breath.

Imperfect and imperfectly. A song that sings me.

Because There's a blaze of light in every word/It doesn't matter which you heard/The holy or the broken Hallelujah.

I sleep next to my lover, hold a grandchild, my old dog slips away with one breath, then none all at the gift of the veterinarian's needle. I'll stand before the Lord of Song/With nothing on my lips but Hallelujah.

It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah.

What else is there?  Hallelujah.

Imperfect. Flawed and failed.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Me and Oral Roberts

Heal!! He laid on hands, this intense, florid man, sweating and teary eyed.  The man, woman, or child kneeling at his feet--if they weren't on a stretcher or in a wheel chair--frequently were crying too.  Their stories had been told, their need for healing proclaimed to the heavens and the congregation--along with us out in television land.
Oral Roberts seemed to wrest miracles from Jesus; the physical effort was evident .  Nothing gentle about this.

And nothing quiet about the healings either.  Rejoicing swept the congregation, the newly healed and Oral Roberts praised Jesus--and cried.  Faith healings take place in in an ocean surge of waves, and spray, and salt.
I was eight and this was the 50's in North Carolina.  We weren't always regular churchgoers but my mother was raised Baptist, Jesus was always watching us, and she read a chapter from the Bible to me every night.
I also lived in a world where grownups never lied and people were to be trusted.
My mother's health was fragile.  She had bronchiectisis (a lung condition somewhat like cystic fibrosis) which regularly put her in the hospital about once a year.She nearly died having me and "was never the same."  When my dad was gone--he was a Marine--I would slip into her room at night to check to be sure she was breathing.
So I wrote to Oral Roberts to ask him to pray for my mother to be healed.  As far as I could tell, he never failed on TV and his prayers had to be just as effective at a distance.  As I mailed the letter, I imagined my family's surprise and joy.  I didn't want thanks--I just wanted my mom to live and figured that the Reverend Robert's prayers seemed to have a power my night time Our father who art's and God blesses didn't.
My theology was weak and so was my critical thinking--but I was eight. Not stupid, just ignorant and a bit naive.
I did get a letter back.  There was a generic  paragraph promising prayers for me and my loved one.  They would lift us up to the Lord or something like that.
The rest of the letter was a two paragraph plea for money.  I don't think it was explicitly said but my eight year old self found it pretty implicit that this money would make the prayers much, much, much more effective.
I was disappointed but not devastated.  More like the dawning of Santa is your mom and dad, that growing awareness of the limitations of sleighs and realities of life.
I wish I'd written to thank him.
Some facts, like chicken pox, are best taught/caught young.

Help! I'm Addicted to K Cups

I like to think I'm a good person and at least a pale shade of green.  My recycling trash container is always much fuller than than the one that contains, well, trash.  I buy recyled, local, organic, advocate for sustainable solutions at the architectural office I work at.  I know what Cradle to Cradle is, unplug electrical things when I can and when they aren't needed....

I really really try to be a good person.

But my partner's daughter gave him a Keurig coffee maker for Christmas.

Now, you first have to understand--we really enjoy coffee and drink it morning, noon, and night.  When we first got together I did have to teach him that grocery store brand ground coffee made into pale brown water is NOT coffee.  I introduced him to the coffee grinder and Trader Joe's Organic, Shade-Grown, Fair Traded Coffee.  (It's the way I salvage my guilt over what I know can be an exploitive, environment destroying, high pesticide product.)
And then the Keurig showed up.  And I mocked it--who know what kind of coffee really was in those little plastic K cups?  I mean--PLASTIC?  And they don't recycle.

Then we had the first cup of dark roast.

"OK," we agreed, "Not bad for when you just want a cup.  Or for company."  Quick, easy, flavorful, and kinda fun--all the buttons, the hissing noise, and the pretty blue lights.

Nice on occasion , we agreed.

The first hit was just experimental.  Why would we abandon our old coffee maker which held so many cups and could be programed to have a full pot ready before we got out of bed?
In the next few days we blew through the samples that had come with the Keurig like a politician grabbing face time on TV.  No limits.

Then--the supply was running low.  Panic set in.  Where do you go to get more--who's your connection?
Turns out Costco carries a big box of 80 of Newman's Own for $33.00.

I brought it home.  John added up the cost and gave me THE LOOK.  "Do you realize how much this costs a cup?"  No.  He told me. I just could not keep the number in mind; it always drifted away.

Besides, while not cheaper that making a pot, well, you know, sometimes we didn't actually drink the whole pot  and then we wastefully poured it out. And the Keurig brew is certainly cheaper than Starbucks and their ilk.

I try not to look at the old coffee maker which seems to be lonely and saddened, asking what did I do wrong?  It doesn't seem to be buying, "It's not you, it's me."

I don't even tell myself I can quit anytime.  Turns out we ALWAYS want only one cup.

We pretend that pile of little plastic cups in the trash does not exist.  And--after all--it is Newman's Own: organic and fair traded.  The Newmans are very environmentally aware you know.

Now I'm wishing we had a Keurig at work.

I know I need help.

Is there a support group out there for me?

We could have coffee.