Radiance and Rawness: Hallelujah and the Blues

Catching up with a friend yesterday, she mentioned she’s trying to figure out the parenting thing.

Let me know, I say, when you do. Pass your wisdom along.

I’m not expecting a parenting epiphany anytime soon. In my experience, epiphanies are few, and I was gifted one recently. My teenager and I were listening to a Leonard Cohen song while brushing our teeth one night when I realized the novel I’m writing reflects that song. In the same lightening flash, I saw my whole life was that song, the lyrics and Cohen’s voice imbued with the nearly unbearable beauty of living and the simultaneous godawful blues – that all of human existence, all the way back to the preliterate days of stick and stone warfare, of hunting and gathering, was about the holy and the broken hallelujah.

Hard at work in revision, my novel staggers upward, soaring, full-throated and lusty. The bitter blues I have in spades. What I need is bacon sizzling in a cast-iron skillet, fat crisping golden, succulent and salty, hot fat melting on my tongue. I make a mental note. Write in: more bacon.

…I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though it all went wrong
I’ll stand before the lord of song
With nothing on my tongue but hallelujah….

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Montpelier, Vermont

By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.

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