Our intellects insist that time marches forward in a straight line, but our hearts know otherwise: time goes in a circle.
You can hear it in the way we speak: "I've come full circle," we say when the wisdom of our heart breaks through to our minds, and we know that the way things are working out is good and right.
And, of course, time does run in circles--actually layers upon layers of interconnected cycles. We find these at all levels in the physical world: the seasonal cycle, which comes from the cycle of our world around the sun, the lunar cycle that governs the tides, even multi-year cycles in the climate, such as the el Nino and la Nina oscillations in ocean temperatures.
But there are inner cycles as well, cycles in our bodies and cycles in our souls, and this deep truth is reflected in all of our religions. On Wednesday this week, Christians will enter a new phase of their own annual cycle and begin Lent, the forty-day period preceding Easter.
Lent is a penitential season and one way that liturgical churches observe this is by "putting the alleluias away" during the season. The word itself is dropped from the prayers and from the music, and unless somebody makes a mistake and bursts out in a spontaneous "Hallelujah!" it won't be heard again until Easter.
Since we will soon be putting away the alleluias and the hallelujahs, I thought I would share with you my current favorite version of this one-word hymn of praise. Many of you probably saw KD Lang perform Leonard Cohen's song "Hallelujah" at the Olympic Opening Ceremony.
The lyrics begin like this:
Now I've heard there was a secret chord
that David played and it pleased the Lord,
but you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this:
the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major lift.
The baffled king composing Hallelujah.
Hallelujah, Hallelujah! Hallelujah, Hallelujah!
Here is an earlier rendition by KD Lang, which, with its passionate and keening quality, seems perfect for one last Hallelujah before Lent.