Christmas Eve was the first time since 1978 that the lunar calendar aligned with the Gregorian one, so that the joy and miracles of Chanukah and Christmas could be commemorated at precisely the same time. I’ve always imagined that the force that birthed the Christian savior was the same one that enabled the singular night’s worth of oil to endure for eight nights of the menorah’s flames. In light of this season and ushering in the new year, I want more than anything to post something beautiful. I learned that a goodbye could be painted beautifully the first time I heard Linda Ronstadt sing Jimmy Webb’s “Adios”, and I wish to say ‘adios’ to many things this year. The months of 2016 have brought immeasurable changes, loss, betrayal and disappointments in the realm of the world as well as my personal life. In these last December evenings illuminated by festive lights, I feel the bittersweetness of this adios. It is my intent that this post focus on the sweetness.
I sat next to my Dad’s army buddy Geno who’s become a cherished member of our family, during a Christmas mass just hours after we lit the Chanukah candles in front of his living room nativity scene. When I listened to a chorus of Hallelujah, I reflected on the meaning of the word, particularly Leonard Cohen’s depiction in his hauntingly beautiful song. I marveled at the praise around me in a cavernous church on the holiest day of the year for devout Christians, and thought of how Cohen spoke of the inspiration behind the song, as a way to “stand with those who clearly see God’s holy broken world for what it is and still find the courage or the heart to praise it.”
I wish to leave you and this tumultuous year with my version of Hallelujah. I know it’s been said to have been overused in art and media, and yet I’ve chosen to record it over my own songs because of the power it carried for me this year. For decades of my life SNL (Saturday Night Live) has been an important source of comedic saving grace. Following election night, when I heard the comedienne who parodied Hillary Clinton sing the song to fill the space of what had become a cocky mocking of an unimaginable presidential candidate, I was riveted and transfixed. As Cohen had died that week, it was a perfect confluence of art, comedy, politics and heartbreak. It was a performance that pulled at the heart strings of those who mourned the passing of Leonard Cohen, and at the same time needed to work their way from gleeful parody to a new reality. Cohen said of the song that it reflects a desire to affirm his faith in life, not in some formal religious way, but with enthusiasm and emotion.
With gratitude to my talented friend Connie Howard for her beautiful harmonies and piano, and for the sweet support of Gretchen Spartz, I offer my own version here to be true to one of my deepest inspirations this year. May the new year inspire us to dig deeper to transform ourselves and the world one heart at a time, to be closer to our highest nature, that of divine truth, compassion and love.
I plan to take a hiatus from social media and other engagements as I focus on writing. I have wanted to write a memoir for as long as I can remember, and now is the right time for me. It’s difficult to be sure to what extent I will work on other things, I just wanted to say goodbye to a year that has in many ways been challenging and at times even devastating personally and otherwise. I admit to having viscerally experienced the new political direction of our country, as have many other progressives I know and love. I am never without hope and yet I am humble in my surrender to the need to rest, reflect, recalibrate, renew, and recreate, to be best able to continue to inspire and cultivate healing.
With love light and blessings,