It’s hard to know whether St. Joseph was a fan of the popular music of his day, especially given the fact that scripture reports not a single word he ever spoke. Still, something tells me he would have appreciated Leonard Cohen’s lyrical take on the enigmas of life.
I’m thinking in particular about Cohen’s masterful tune entitled “Anthem.” In its refrain, Cohen makes a wry observation: “There is a crack…a crack…in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”
As we celebrate the great saint’s feast today, it’s worth contemplating how Joseph lived out the messy details of his own existence – with all of its (presumably annoying) gaps and imperfections – long before anyone ever thought to call him ‘saint.’
From what we know, he was apparently very much an ordinary Joe: A carpenter, a craftsman. One who begins his married life on pretty much of a sour note, when he discovers that his intended is with child, and he’s not the father.
As a righteous man, Joe knows the law. He knows what he’s entitled to. But he chooses not to go down that ‘either/or’ path in his relationship with Mary. With Cohen-esque wisdom, he seems to understand that even the best of plans can be thrown off course. Life has a way of intervening.
And what happens when you decide to embrace life’s paradoxes and contradictions, rather than reject them…or react indignantly toward them?
Sure, it might cause a few unanticipated fissures in your outlook. But it turns out you can be blessed by the experience, too. Blessed in ways you’d couldn’t possibly have imagined, had you clung to the original course.
After all, as both Joe and Leonard know:
“That’s how the Light gets in.”
Let us pause now…to remember that we are in the presence of the Holy One.