Prayer: Do not let me fall prey

Do not let me fall prey to the mechanical animal in my brain that calls me away from you. It looks and acts the same in me as it does in any caged creature. This beast is always ready to sever links with its human family, being altogether in pieces already, at the mercy of the crashing seas of circumstance. It cannot remain at home on its own shores, nor can it bask for long beneath the strong rays of another’s sun, for it lacks both an anchor to hold it steady, and an ark to take it safely across the river. Hone this loss-addicted, lusterless machine. Release the cold hand from panicked demands for another’s warmth, so the man can remember whose hand holds the key. Though I am eons from any final clarity, let disparity itself become fuel. Do not let the mud of confusion bury the blessing, but let the perishing puddles evaporate into the western wind; and, as the sun begins to set, let the spirit of beauty spearhead my inward evolution.

Leonard Cohen, Book of Mercy, 45

Not knowing where to go, I go to you. Not knowing where to turn, I turn to you. Not knowing how to speak, I speak to you. Not knowing what to hold, I bind myself to you. Having lost my way, I make my way to you. Having soiled my heart, I lift my heart to you. Having wasted my days, I bring the heap to you. The great highway covered with debris, I travel on a hair to you. The wall smeared with filth, I go through a pinhole of light. Blocked by every thought, I fly on the wisp of a remembrance. Defeated by silence, here is a place where the silence is more subtle. And here is the opening in defeat. And here is the clasp of the will. And here is the fear of you. And here is the fastening of mercy. Blessed are you, in this man’s moment. Blessed are you, whose presence illuminates outrageous evil. Blessed are you who brings chains out of darkness. Blessed are you, who waits in the world. Blessed are you, whose name is in the world.

Leonard Cohen, Book of Mercy, 45

Leonard Cohen, Book of Mercy, 41

I look far, I forget you, and I’m lost. I lift my hands to you. I kneel toward my heart. I have no other home. My love is here. I end the day in mercy that I wasted in despair. Bind me to you, I fall away. Bind me, ease of my heart, bind me to your love. Gentle things you return to me, and duties that are sweet. And you say, I am in this heart, I and my name are here. Everywhere the blades turn, in every thought the butchery, and it is raw where I wander; but you hide me in the shelter of your name, and you open the hardness to tears. The drifting is to you, and the swell of suffering breaks toward you. You draw me back to close my eyes, to bless your name in speechlessness. Blessed are you in the smallness of your whispering. Blessed are you, who speaks to the unworthy.

LEONARD COHEN, BOOK OF MERCY, 41