Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Holy or a Broken Hallelujah!

I'm less than a hack of a piano player. I had about one year of lessons when I was a kid - thanks to my generous and patient grandmother who put up with hours of endless plinkity-plinkity-plinkity on her old upright player piano - and mostly I play by a not-very-good ear.

But I've been wrestling with Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and I am mad about that song. I've read several theories on the meaning of the song on the Internet and, as you would expect, most of them are so godless they haunt you for days that you even read them. I'm more inclined to believe Cohen's own ideas: he wrote it as a homage to God (not religion)... and although I believe it's possible he may have had a sort of confused glimpse of God when he wrote it, don't we all.

Thank you, baby Ashley, for introducing me to that song.

Today it is spring here. I did something that I know is a complete and utter luxury and I'm still endlessly amazed every time I have the opportunity to do it. I came home from needing to work and took a nap trying to get rid of a five-day headache (same-old-same-old stupid headaches for 30 years). Anyway, when I woke up, I found out I could procrastinate another day about something I need to do at the shop (boxing the rest of a shipment... the truck won't arrive until noon tomorrow so I can do it in the morning)... and so I thought I would go ahead and gesso some drawings I am trying to finish.

When I walked into the den on the way to my little screened-porch studio, it hit me. The air smelled like Hallelujah. It was raining softly sometime in the afternoon because it woke me up (or probably, my wiener dog Frankie did because he feels nervous when it rains), and the air smells like... I don't know what it smells like.

This old house we live in doesn't always smell that sweet. It's just the truth. We burn wood all winter long and so by spring the chimney is wet-ashy and everything else smells smokey. We have two little wiener dogs who are always underfoot and, even though I am reticent to acknowledge it, they do sometimes stink quite a bit. I am also a less than pristine housekeeper (i.e., my house rarely smells like cleaning products and when it does, it's usually a kill-all bleach). A lot of times in the spring this old house just smells sort of damp and musty unless the windows have been open.

Sometimes it doesn't smell too bad. On Saturdays, if we're cooking, it smells terrific: like roast beef or vegetable soup or chili or maybe even barbecue. When we burn wood in the fall it smells like the world is new and the smoke alone could be a thanksgiving sacrifice that the Lord would accept. At Christmas it smells like evergreens because I have fake trees and so I burn evergreen candles (tacky, huh.) But other wise, it's less than great. Don't feel smug. Your house probably stinks too, just I KNOW mine does.

So I came into the den and it smelled like hallelujah. When I went into the studio, it smelled even better.

I went outside with my terrible photography skills and snapped some pictures. They aren't too terrific. Actually, they are - as my dad used to tell me about my carpentry attempts - very poor. Very, very poor.
So it smells like hallelujah today and I am so honored to be here to be a part of it.

I've been re-reading some of the Nancy Drew mysteries I read as a kid and I am now reading "The Hidden Staircase". When Nancy's father comes up missing, she is having trouble figuring out what to do next, so she remembers some of her father's advice about what to do when she is confused. Take time for nature.

Usually, I think I'm going to solve some stupid problem by running in circles. I never do, though. After 45 years, a person should know this. I need to be like Nancy. I need to take time for nature. I need to take time for God. I need to take time for a holy or a broken hallelujah. Sometimes, a broken one is all you can manage.

So I didn't gesso my drawings yet and I didn't get rid of this headache, but I did smell the sweetness of this old house and remembered my broken hallelujah. God will make it holy for me.

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