It had been over three years since I left the monastery. To avoid the holiday frenzy that carries with it an all-infecting germ of anxiety, I decided to return to the monastery to visit and spend Christmas in silence. Stepping through the doors, it was indeed the power of Sacred Silence that wrapped around me, enveloping me again in Infinite Safety. I thought myself a fool to have ever left such a place. After four days, we had a "talking meal" where the silence was temporarily broken and we could talk of all things great and small. I had mentioned earlier to the Abbot, in a private conversation, the healing effect the place was having on me. I was encouraged to mention it to the others at the talking meal, as a morale boost.
"So," I announced to a table of monks and nuns when we sat down, "you all must be doing something right. The energy in this place is great. I mean, I feel like the arch-angels of Heaven are doing surgery on my soul."
Even through their countenance of modesty, I could tell they were pleased to hear this. The Abbot smiled at me in appreciation, but it was me who was appreciative of experiencing the healing power of the Cross during those five days of retreat. Spiritual surgery, that's what it felt like - healing, renewal.
And that's what I feel with Leonard Cohen's song, "Come Healing." Moreover, his poetry, being a spherical prism of meaning and perspective, can perhaps offer each listener their own subjective entrance into the warm grace of regeneration. In this song, religion and God -in addition to the individual -are given a petition for healing: "Come healing of the Altar/Come Healing of the Name." It's a theme I've noticed in Cohen's songs before: that God is wounded, too.
Some of my favorite lines of all Leonard Cohen lyrics are in "Come Healing." Perhaps it takes a Jewish Zen monk to remind me of the central message of healing and rebirth in my own tradition. The Christian mysticism of this hymn-like ballad neither resists nor promulgates religious language: it is simply an honest, intimate prayer:
"The splinters that you carry
The cross you left behind,
Come healing of the Spirit
Come healing of the Mind."
It reminds me that I don't have to carry the splinters alone, that help from Without can come. The song flows like a restful invitation to let go of your burden and turn it over to God.
Listen below if you want: