This month in America, as we celebrate our country’s birth, I can’t help but think about the big crack in the Liberty Bell. It seems the right metaphor for our cracked nation. Our beloved patriotic songs catch in our throats as the fissures that divide us grow deeper and the gash in our democracy grows worrisome and the sense of decency we once took for granted becomes fractured on a daily basis. Our ability to face the enormity of the crack and to cry hot tears into its depth is part of what it means to be fully human; but that’s not the whole story, as the late Leonard Cohen reminds us.
Cohen would offer, in his inimitable way, the upside of the crack: the light that gets in. We could name it grace—that pure light streaming through the cracks of imperfection, helping us catch vivid glimpses of something greater than our brokenness. . . .