Looking back over the past year, I can honestly say that I am not sure I could survive another year as physically and emotionally draining as 2018. Someone once quipped that in the middle everything feels like a failure. Being middle-aged, at least for me, takes that observation to a whole new level. Stated another way, I have gained a lot of humility since turning 50 a little more than three years ago. I am not at a point, even yet, where I think of myself as old. I am starkly conscious that I am no longer young. It's a strange place, a vulnerable place.
In light of the above, it is fitting that the Old Testament canticle, included in the Psalmody for Friday Morning Prayer, Week II of the Psalter, is taken from the Book of the Prophet Habakkuk. The canticle includes this:
For though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit appears on the vine, Though the yield of the olive fails and the terraces produce no nourishment, Though the flocks disappear from the fold and there is no herd in the stalls, Yet I will rejoice in the LORD and exult in my saving God (Hab 3:17-18)
Last night driving home from my office pre-Christmas party I was regaling my lovely wife with songs I like as she drove us home. I played Morrissey, The Pretenders, The Smiths, The Cure, Joy Division, and New Order. My wife, for those who don't know, is a classically-trained pianist and music theorist. She mostly tolerates my music and even finds it amusing at times. Last year, the week after my birthday, she accompanied me to see Morrissey live in concert. After listening to 3 or 4 songs, I told her not worry that many people found my musical tastes odd. Being the luminous and lovely person she is, she said, "No, you just like poems set to music." I liked that and she meant it sincerely, which made me feel better about myself.
As I pondered my wife's words early this morning, in much the same way my thoughts drifted to David Bowie's Blackstar album last Friday, to another album recorded while the artist was dying: Leonard Cohen's You Want It Darker. Cohen, for certain, was a poet who set many of his poems to music. Specifically, I thought of Cohen's "If I Didn't Have Your Love." Like most truly great love songs, this song works on many levels, both human and divine. Here 's a verse:
And no water in the sea
And the break of day
Had nothing to reveal
That’s how broken I would be
What my life would seem to me
If I didn’t have your love
To make it real
Sending this out to the One who loves me and the one I love, "If I Didn't Have Your Love" is our Friday traditio for this Second Friday in Advent: