In his diminutive notebook Leonard Cohen scratched out some potent lyrics for his future protest song “Everybody Knows.” What particularly grabbed my attention were two lines that didn’t make it into the final cut: Every single breath that I take and Every crust of bread that I break. Cohen’s discarded lines remind me of two important Lenten themes—‘breath’ and ‘bread.’
Life is wholly dependent on the little breaths we draw in every second of our earthly existence. Simple inhalation and exhalation. So simple we don’t even think about it. Without them there is deadly silence. Equally bread is required daily for survival (or its gluten free substitute!). Daily munching is required or we fade away to nothing.
Cohen goes on to say (in his poetic way) that everybody knows it but how quickly we forget. We think that somehow we are in control when in reality we aren’t. Everything is given—everything flows down the river towards us—including our breath and bread.
The ancient book of the law knows better when it is written, One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (DT 8:3). There is something deeper than breath or bread and the ancient writer knew it (Everybody knows!). The Source of Life is the bedrock that we really stand on and the sooner we recognize it the better off we will all be.
A single breath and a crust of bread are reminders during this Lenten season that the Word is for us…God is for us…Jesus is for us…Creation is for us….
Everything is given.
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Thanks for this Alan. I always enjoy your perspective.
An interesting synchronicity…my most recent meditation/poem reads:
Life is simple, but it ain’t easy
All you’ve got to do
Is make one heart beat at a time
Just hold you breath
Then hold it ‘til you take the next
Just keep on breathing friend
You’re doing fine
As simple as it is
Life’s not that easy
It’s what you do with all that breath
That makes a life worthwhile
It’s holding tightly to your vision
Sticking’ closely to your values
That’s what makes a life sublime
Not Leonard but….😊😎
A big YES!