"Just give me a reason, just a little bit's enough, just a second we're not broken just bent and we can learn to love again. It's in the stars. It's been written in the scars on our hearts. We're not broken just bent and we can learn to love again"
We turn many places for wisdom, but sometimes we discover something profound in a place we are not even looking. Morning after morning this summer as I drive the kids to their various destinations I hear the same songs playing on the radio. This one quoted above, "Just Give me a Reason" by the artist Pink and the lead singer of the group FUN caught my attention. Along with being a collaboration between two singers with captivating voices, the song presents a powerful dialogue of two lovers questioning whether what holds them together is irreparably shattered or can be mended again.
What makes the lyrics powerful is not the description of a unique situation but the unflinching images of a story that is all too common. A story of facing a relationship that is on the ropes, dealing with what feels like a breakdown, asking the frightening questions about the future. And, in the case of this song, discovering that love is neither lost nor guaranteed ever after. Instead, the relationship is "not broken, just bent" and there is a chance to "learn to love again."
Pink's song is not exactly the style of music we think about for the Season of Awe, these days culminating in the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, and the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. However, its message is very much in sync with what these days are about and the meaning of the words that we pray. As the new year begins we come before our Creator to take stock of our lives, our actions,and our plans for the coming year. The prayer book sings with words that simultaneously remind us of the promise that is written as if in the stars and allows us to reveal the ways in which the year may have left the "scars on our hearts."
But the central symbol of the holiday is the shofar, the instrument made from a Ram's horn. To be fit for use as a horn it may not be severely cracked, but to be a shofar its shape must be curved and contorted. In this way the shofar teaches us that we are in fact "not broken, but bent."
In fact, it is the bend in the shofar that provided its origin as a symbol of Rosh Hashana. When Abraham was called upon to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac, it was a ram that appeared to take his son's place. That ram was found because its twisted horns got "caught in the thicket". How true it is that our most important discoveries can come because of not despite of recognizing how we are bent.But what if we feel not bent but broken?
One of the most beautiful sections of the Yom Kippur service are poetic expressions inspired by the prophetic image of how we sit in the hands of our Creator like clay in the hands of a potter. We call upon G*d to remember our covenant and see us for our potential to be mended and not as a broken vessel. While the prayer emphasizes the Divine perspective, these words also can serve as a reminder that there is no brokenness that cannot find wholeness. Whether bent or broken, we can learn to love again.The stories of searching our selves and committing to the hard work of repair echo from every corner of the world around us. As we enter this season of preparing for the New Year, we have the opportunity to attune ourselves to these messages and think about how to put them in our own words.