“It’s the cracks that really matter”

When I was in college, if I needed to remember some quote or fact or line of reasoning, I would try to find a way to turn it into a song I could sing. I have a distinct memory of sitting on the bus with my basketball team, traveling to Northampton to play against Smith College, and laboring to turn some passage from Freud into a song so that it would stick in my brain. It must not have been a very good song (consider the source text!), because more than 30 years later I remember only the cover of the book, the smell and cacophony of the bus, and the drama of the game.

Here’s a truth that can be excruciatingly hard to remember and hold onto. Thankfully, the poet/songwriter Leonard Cohen has inspired many other songwriters and singers, like Thea Gilmore. Thanks to Thea Gilmore, we have this new mnemonic:

Lyrics for “How the Love Gets In” by Thea Gilmore:

When the night is black and the fires are out
When the reason why is the only doubt
When the engine’s fine but the tires are bare
When the bets are off but the odds were fair

That’s how the love gets in
That’s how the love gets in
Ooh Ooh Ooh
That’s how the love gets in.

When your load is light but your feet are stone
When that old white rag makes your heart its home
When the road is clear but the bridge is closed
When you learn to dance but the music slows

Ooh Ooh Ooh
That’s how the love gets in.
Ooh Ooh Ooh
That’s how the love gets in.
Ooh Ooh Ooh
That’s how the love gets in.

So raise a glass for how it shatters
‘Cause it’s the cracks that really matter.

When the strings are new but the neck is bent
When your master plan was just an accident
When your heart is whole but your soul is shot
You’re singing in tune but you’re sure you’re not
That’s how the love gets in [repeat until done]

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3 responses to ““It’s the cracks that really matter”

  1. This is my favorite (so far). How amazing that your Lenten discipline brings such joy to your readers/listeners.

  2. “That’s how the love gets in [repeat until done].” That just got me, cracked me up, made me realize we need to let the love in and in and in, find ways for it to get in and in and in, till we’re done. I’m with Margo — your discipline, our pure delight! XOX, JO

  3. I have loved Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem” so fiercely these past several years, so I guess I was destined to love Thea’s plaintive song! So the cracks are vital–light gets in (and out), the love gets in (and out), and in the children’s story of the cracked water vessel, that’s how the water gets out to give life to struggling flowers along the dusty trail. Cracks=living water. Joy, your reflections make this Lenten season one to remember for a long, long time. Thanks!

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