In these challenging times, as individuals and entities call out “mayday! mayday!”—“help us! help us!'—I am heartened to hear encouraging responses. These come in so many astounding ways. For each response I am immensely grateful. For each response I want to sing out “Hallelujah".
Putting his hands to the keyboard, the pianist played the first notes of the hauntingly familiar “Hallelujah”, and magically one by one the singing choir of faces of the Rodean schoolgirls appeared. Seemingly mature beyond their ages, the young girls sang with the passion and longing woven by the weft and warp running through the lyrics of this remarkable song.
When he wrote and first performed “Hallelujah” in 1984, Canadian poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen had been out of the spotlight for quite a long time and his career had reached a low point. While the “Hallelujah” of the title is understood to be composed of two Hebrew words meaning “to praise God joyously”, the literal interpretation of the song’s lyrics is and ambiguous and elusive. Perhaps they tell us that in love—love for a time, a place, a person—not every “hallelujah” comes from a happy and joyful heart, but can also come from an aching hurt filled with longing for what is lost. Perhaps with each successive utterance, “hallelujah” moves from reflection to inspiration to conviction and finally, resignation. Perhaps the chorus—“Hallelujah”, “Hallelujah”, “Hallelujah”, “Hallelujah”—tells us there is meaning in life and reason to celebrate, for even when we know the pain of loss, the spiritual distillation of love lingers in the heart.
In Cohen’s words: “This world is full of conflicts and full of things that cannot be reconciled. But there are moments when we can…reconcile and embrace the whole mess, and that’s what I mean by ‘Hallelujah’. The song explains that many kinds of hallelujahs do exist, and all the perfect and broken hallelujahs have equal value. [“Hallelujah”] is a desire to affirm my faith in life…with enthusiasm, with emotion.”
Our hometown, non-profit arts center, artCentral, temporarily closed through July, is experiencing the mess and the losses of this pandemic time—the loss of plans, the loss of resources that sustain and keep artCentral strong, the loss of artists and art lovers filling Hyde House and bringing their presence and energy and joy. Though the galleries are empty and the campus is silent but for bird calls and the elegant white irises seeming to sing in spring’s breezes, still the enthusiasm and the emotion remain. With concern we have called out our “mayday! mayday! With tremendous gratitude we are singing our “Hallelujahs”.
“Hallelujah”! for Lonnie Heckmaster and his shepherding the timely SBA Loan coming to us by way of Old Missouri Bank to help with salary and operating expenses.
“Hallelujah”! to the Carthage Community Foundation and the Betsy Pauly Memorial Fund for a $3,500.00 grant made to artCentral to help with salary and operating expense needs due to Covid-19.
The commitment of artCentral grows ever stronger to support art and artists and bring to Carthage and our neighbors the culture that adds beauty and meaning and hope to our lives. We are singing, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” for all the goodness that has come and continues to come still!