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Ring the Bells That Still Can Ring

I can’t run no more
with that lawless crowd
while the killers in high places
say their prayers out loud.
But they’ve summoned, they’ve summoned up
a thundercloud
and they’re going to hear from me.

You can add up the parts
but you won’t have the sum
You can strike up the march,
there is no drum
Every heart, every heart
to love will come
but like a refugee.

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

Anuna linked to this wonderful video in a different thread, but I thought it deserved its own post. She wrote:

I know what both of you mean, Arietty and Heart, about sometimes feeling wistful. For me, it’s especially so at this time. I thought I’d share this song with you–kind of different from the one [in the other post]. It’s Julie Christensen and Perla Batalla singing Leonard Cohen’s “Anthem.” I just thought these ladies were so great.

I’ve been reading a good book about healing from abusive relationships. The author makes the point that the idea that things will be “better” after we leave abusive relationships is really a myth. We aren’t being abused anymore, it’s true, and that’s a relief. There are things to look forward to and be happy about. But the fact remains that we have also lost many things and there is so much to grieve. We lost our dreams, our hopes, our plans. We lost our confidante or confidantes, in the case of a community. We lost our lover and companion. We lost our sexual or spiritual innocence, not innocence in the sense of inexperience, but in the sense of having lost our sense of ourselves as sexually or spiritually whole women. Our abusive husbands took control of our bodies or of our sex lives with them — what our sex lives would or wouldn’t be, would or wouldn’t include — and in so doing, took our sexuality away from us. Our abusive communities took control of our spirituality and took that away from us. We lost our roommates, our friends, the people we talked with about our problems, daily activities, kids. relationships, the news, politics. We may have lost our possessions, our dreams for our own lives and for our children’s lives. We had thought we’d be and have our families always or our communities always and with them, stability, history, continuity, a shared future. We lost that. It’s gone now. We lost our shared traditions and memories. We lost our opportunity to say all the things to our partner or our community that we wanted to say and that will now remain unsaid, many, many things. We couldn’t say these things while we were in our relationship or in our community because it wasn’t safe to or we might have been abused for it or because we knew what we said would fall on deaf ears; our partner or community didn’t care, didn’t want to hear about it. These are significant losses and are to be mourned. There’s no other way through. It’s really, really hard at times; as you say, at times of the year like now, anuna.

This song is so perfect; the loss and the hope, the disappointment and determination, the fierceness and the grief are all wrapped together and entangled. That’s exactly the way it is for us, isn’t it?




3 thoughts on “Ring the Bells That Still Can Ring

  1. the loss and the hope, the disappointment and determination, the fierceness and the grief are all wrapped together and entangled. That’s exactly the way it is for us, isn’t it?

    Yes! That is it, exactly. Thank you for this post. It really helped me this past weekend. It’s the first time in years that I’ve felt someone really understood my experience. That means a lot.

    The other thing that helped was getting out into the woods on Sunday afternoon. I was in an arboretum near here. The cherry trees had started to bloom. I tried and tried to find words adequate to describe the endless play of white flowers against the wind and the sun and the blue of the sky, but couldn’t! They were born again out of the old, old wood, and standing beneath them made my heart feel free, that’s all.

    Posted by anuna | April 14, 2009, 1:01 pm
  2. Thank you for this blog. Deconverting felt like ending a relationship with a man, because I genuinely loved Jesus and God even when they were beating the cr@p out of me. I wouldn’t wish my life on anyone but I feel so lonely sometimes and even though I have suffered so much less than the mother of ten who appeared on my homeschooling as a single parent board saying “Judges don’t REALLY take children away from their mothers ansd give custody to their fathers, do they?” and could tell you statutes and precedents and relevant family court cases faster than your attorney could a few months later, I know that she would understand. She wouldn’t think I was stupid for remembering the dream and mourning the might-have-beens even though she didn’t get her kids back either.

    I couldn’t bring myself to make my toddler an Easter Basket or take him on an egg hunt or let anyone give him a stuffed bunny on Resurrection Day because I missed Jesus.I don’t want Him back again and I have no intention of raiding the fourth child I birthed who is the first child that doesn’t “belong” to a man, as a Christian, but I still miss Jesus.

    I miss women who know about my old world and understand why I wanted the things I never got and have some clue that becoming a Single Mother By Choice is an act of defiance and a choice to hope for the future and not a step backwards.

    Posted by noordinaryspider (formerly known as anonymom) | April 25, 2009, 7:37 am
  3. I can’t believe I’m reading these things. Cheryl, I still have the last two “old” gentle spirit magazines where you share your heart in the midst of the trials of ’94. I kept them in a dresser drawer all these years even though my group was shocked at your “downfall”. I kept them for some reason secret to my own heart.

    Nine children. 26 years of marriage to an intolerably narcississtic/borderline personality type, having been deeply involved in a church laden with standards and quiverfull mentality, my eyes were opened last year. I was an intelligent, rational person! How did I get here?

    I now understand the rejection that only the fundamentalist church can execute on folks that will not tow the line. Having been isolated from non believers for so long there is no support and the road is an extremely lonely one. I decided to see a therapist so that I could at least have someone to talk to about the trauma of trying to separate from this man and keep my children.

    How does anyone keep their faith under these circumstances? With a husband professing to speak to God, having visions, prophesying doom, and accusing me of everything under the sun. With my older daughters still mesmerized by daddy, trying so hard to be little wives and pick up Mom’s slack, because Mom finally realized life isn’t all about walking on eggshells around a tyrannical man.

    Than you for posting this forum.

    Posted by philosophia | May 19, 2009, 7:22 pm

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