Slant the Light

November, it appears, is redefining its reputation. The lingering warmth with the slanting mellow light has little resemblance to the chill and drear of usual Novembers. This slanted light is gentler, finding it’s way along the underside of things, easing into places that are usually hidden. While I like the rain against my windows and my face, the ambiance of these days is a gift I’m relishing that is richer by mere fact that winter is waiting in the wings.



“There is a crack in everything/that’s how the light gets in” ~ Leonard Cohen. This line came across my news feed last week. Cohen preceded these lines with “Forget your perfect offering”. I’m thinking this Canadian poet who liked to explore the topics of religion and philosophy among other things in his writing, was onto something. The cracks that mar the veneer of our surfaces are the very portals where light can find its way in and reach us.

These same cracks may also be where light leaks out. Or is it Light?


Henri Nouwen says in his writings that it’s in our wounded places where we truly meet. I much prefer to hold my cards close, to be in control of any leakage. I don’t like veneer, but I do like an old, polished surface. There may be no difference. While we need to be wise and honour our stories and the stories of others by holding spaces that are safe, I think we also need to be present in the very places where we feel most vulnerable, places where Light can maybe be most fluid. Not everybody needs to know everything, but maybe some-body needs to hear or share some-thing. Cultivating an awareness and an attentiveness to the Spirit can attune our heart’s eye to the cracks, the places where we can truly meet. Averted eyes and stiff upper lips may be an attempt to seal over the cracks, or it may be a silent cry for someone to notice and keep watch in a dark hour.


Although the wind blows terribly here, the moonlight also leaks between the roof planks of this ruined house.   ~ Isumi Shikibu

Deep conversation, unrestrained laughter, mutually shared beauty, these are all meeting places of souls. But then there are those meeting places where trauma or illness or maybe even feeling deadened in the everyday mundane pry apart “the roof planks” and moonlight leaks in. It is mystery to me that the light can be so rich where souls are laid bare – like this November light on the leafless trees. Or is it Mystery?



We are invited, beckoned, urged to be more than “shiny, happy people holding hands”. Let’s be holders of safe spaces, honouring our stories and keeping watch for each other in the dark hours. Let’s let light slant in gently on distressed surfaces, and let’s not be quick to glaze our own distress in glossy veneer that only bounces the light away.




I don’t know what life looks like beyond the birth canal of death, but I wonder if there’s opportunity for the likes of Cohen, Handel, and King David of old to share a glass of something spectacular and ruminate on their Hallelujahs..