You Want It Darker

Courtesy of Colombia Records

Courtesy of Colombia Records

You Want It Darker

If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game
If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame

Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the help that never came
You want it darker

Hineni, hineni
I’m ready, my lord

There’s a lover in the story
But the story’s still the same
There’s a lullaby for suffering
And a paradox to blame
But it’s written in the scriptures
And it’s not some idle claim
You want it darker
We kill the flame

They’re lining up the prisoners
And the guards are taking aim
I struggled with some demons
They were middle class and tame
I didn’t know I had permission to murder and to maim
You want it darker

Hineni, hineni
I’m ready, my lord

Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Vilified, crucified, in the human frame
A million candles burning for the love that never came
You want it darker
We kill the flame

If you are the dealer, let me out of the game
If you are the healer, I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory, mine must be the shame
You want it darker

Hineni, hineni
Hineni, hineni
I’m ready, my lord

Hineni
Hineni, hineni
Hineni

The word ‘Hineni‘ means ‘Here I am’ in a spiritual sense, which is what Abraham says and means to God to indicate his readiness when he is called on in Genesis 22:1 (הִנֵּֽנִי hinnênî).

I confess a fascination with Leonard Cohen when I came upon his “Book of Mercy” (published 1986).  There is a deep subterranean stream that runs through him, and every once in a while (or more often than that), it comes up for our drinking.

Bob Boilen with NPR.org writes:

“For the past 25 years I’ve had this notion that on every successive Leonard Cohen record his voice would get deeper and deeper until one day he’d put out an album so subsonic that you’d just feel it, not hear it. Well, we’re close. On this day, Leonard Cohen’s 82nd birthday, he’s given us a gift: It’s dark, it’s beautiful and it’s deep. “You Want It Darker” is the title track to his soon-to-be-released album, his 14th studio album in his 49-year recording career. The album of nine songs, out Oct. 21, is produced by his son, musician Adam Cohen. As I hear it, the song speaks of a world without hope.”

As I hear it, the world is not without hope:

There’s a lover in the story
But the story’s still the same
There’s a lullaby for suffering
And a paradox to blame…

Happy as I am to explore paradoxes and court enigmas, I hear Jesus say:

“Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”

Jesus’ own solution to “you want it darker – we kill the flame” is Himself (the lover in the story); His presence; His insertion into our lives. He is the flame that erupts into life.

May we be found saying ‘Hineni’ – ‘Here I am – I’m ready’ – when He calls.

For more see “Leonard Cohen’s Third Act” by Brian D. Johnson in MacLeans.ca.

Addendum:

Less than a month after the release of his latest album: November 10, 2016, his twitter account read:

“It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away.
We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries.
A memorial will take place in Los Angeles at a later date. The family requests privacy during their time of grief.”

You want it darker?  You got it!

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About R.H. (Rusty) Foerger

As I enter the third third of life, I am becoming aware of the role of elders today “to enlarge spiritual vision, being devoted to prayer, living in the face of death, as a living curriculum of the Christian life” (Dr. James M. Houston). I am a life long and life wide learner who seeks to: *decipher the enigma of our worth *rescue from the agony of prayerlessness *integrate spiritual friendship.
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2 Responses to You Want It Darker

  1. Elle says:

    I was reading a verse in Jeremiah which struck me…”they did not know how to blush”, speaking of those who were not ashamed of doing evil. It’s an interesting phrase and i’ve been thinking of it a lot lately. When we feel sad over our sin, that’s such a gift we’ve been given. Otherwise we would love the darkness and be the enemy of God. Anyway your post made me think of that verse.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate your connection to Jeremiah 6:15. Kind of reminded of John 3:19 “light came into the world, but people loved darkness”. Anyways, Cohen is a fascinating if not first rate poet who sits something in our age. Thanks for the note.

      Liked by 1 person

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