Hallelujah (/ˌhælᵻˈluːjə/ hal-ə-loo-yə) is an English interjection. It is a transliteration of the Hebrew word הַלְּלוּיָהּ (Modern halleluya, Tiberian halləlûyāh), which is composed of two elements: הַלְּלוּ (second-person imperative masculine plural form of the Hebrew verb hallal: an exhortation to “praise” addressed to several people) and יָהּ (the names of God Jah or Yah).
Here, at the end of Autumn’s russet bloom, we’ve lost Leonard Cohen. This isn’t a eulogy; I barely knew the man beyond his music. His evocative song, Hallelujah; however, tapped into a deep range of human emotions and prompted numerous renditions over the years. From Chris Botti’s soaring trumpet solo to the soul-brushing harmonies of Pentatonix.
The word is made for shouting. Whatever its origins – one word or two, thanksgiving to God or request for a congregation to praise – the saying of the word empties the lungs and rounds the mouth.A word to be heard from hilltops; from mountaintops; from the bedside of crisis. It fills the head. It is half howl.
And, like Cohen wrote, it can be cold and broken. Muttered in sarcasm, snapped in rage. A savior too late. A fulfillment no longer needed. A reciprocation of old love, no longer wanted. Hallelujah, says someone, feeling the thing that might have saved their friendship or their marriage or their brother’s life two years ago.
That’s where I am. I’m sitting in the middle of grief, and the promise of the light at the end of the tunnel is there but it’s a pinprick; a star light years away. How I’ve felt, what purpose I’ve striven towards for months has been heeded by my loved ones. And it’s too late. I have the courage, the calm center and the will to engage with people I don’t understand, who may not listen and who may be angry with me for it – too late. I found out what I was capable of and what I was willing to sacrifice to care for people other than myself. And here we are at the bedside of crisis again, and here we’ll be for the forseeable future, no matter what I did or how much time I gave.
I know what I’m made of and what I believe.