Ember Letter: Lent 2013

Cohen-meditating-Mount-Ba-007

 

Dear Right Reverend J. Jon Bruno,

For Christmas this year, I was given a book called Patches of Godlight, a collection of quotes that inspired the fictional Episcopal priest Father Tim of Jan Karon’s beloved Mitford series. The book prominently displays a quote from one of my favorite poets, the Jewish Buddhist Leonard Cohen. Also, I am currently reading a book called Violence Unveiled by Gil Bailie, which includes the same Leonard Cohen quote in its epigraph, alongside verses from Scripture and a line from Yeats. And I remember the Reverend Wilma Jakobsen using the same quote in a sermon at All Saints Pasadena. The quote, which makes up the chorus of Cohen’s song “Anthem,” is this:

“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

The quote encourages me to relax, to accept my imperfections and to see my imperfections as conduits for God’s grace to be made manifest in my life. The quote reminds me of the words of another Jewish author who heard Jesus say to him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

My recent experience with the GOEs has invited me to more readily acknowledge my limitations and my need to remain a student in all seven canonical areas of study. Although I am happy with the GOE results, I feel humbled by the process and I look forward to how Christ will work through me (and my imperfections) as I continue to grow in knowledge and experience. I pray that whatever “cracks” I have will be opportunities for Christ’s light to shine through, as I remain open to growth and expansion.

Also, my work with the Marin Episcopal Youth Group (MEYG), a collaborative youth group among five Episcopal parishes in Marin County, has helped me recognize my limitations and my “cracks.” Youth ministry has always been a challenge for me, but one that God keeps pushing me to face. And in the midst of all of my shortcomings, insecurities and disappointments, God’s light has certainly been shining through the ministry of MEYG. In his blog, Bishop Marc Andrus mentioned MEYG as an example of creative people taking action to “revitalize the whole.”[1] And the young people of MEYG have been revitalizing the whole by responding to God’s call to serve others: sending 16 pounds of candy to kids in the East Coast who missed Halloween due to Hurricane Sandy, sending stuffed animals to orphans in Vietnam and baking cookies for homeless people in Marin.

I pray the divine Light continues to shine through the cracks during this season of Lent and preparation for ordination as I learn how to preside over the Eucharist with Louis Weil in my Liturgical Leadership class, as I write my first book review for Anglican Theological Review, and as I continue my doctoral research on the Venerable Bede and the Gospel of John.

Finally, I am eagerly looking forward to hearing the Cohen quote above being sung by the poet himself as my friend and I watch Leonard Cohen perform in Oakland in early March, a few days before my 30th birthday.

“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Sincerely Yours,

Daniel DeForest London

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About deforestlondon

Episcopal priest
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One Response to Ember Letter: Lent 2013

  1. Sharon says:

    In my research on the founders of the Canadian Anglican Fellowship of the West, I read about the F of W’s Elton Scott and his work with the Society of the Venerable Bede at Bishop’s University in Lennoxville, Quebec. I wonder if there are or have been similar groups at other theological colleges.

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