For Whom the Bell Tolls


With thanks, ddzphoto,

“Any man’s death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

– John Donne

If life has taught me anything, it’s that we are connected, not only to our own little circle, but also to someone who may be living half way across the world.  In our digital age,  pictures of war in Ukraine can be beamed by satellite in seconds, and we all experience their tragedy.

Our connection is also evident when you study the history of great inventions.  Many times the original inventor comes up with only a germ of an idea.  But that idea gets picked up by another person who greatly enhances it so that it is now relevant and marketable to the general public.    We’ve seen that, as all the small practices of our household can contribute to a giant problem with waste that now affects everyone’s environment.

Scientists connect galaxies and all living things as coming from a single point before the big bang 13.7 billion years ago.  So it makes sense that what I do may have consequences for someone far away from me in either place or time.  And spiritually, as part of humanity, we are children of God who can reach out to Him and each other through unseen channels of prayer, love and grace.

“From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.  God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.  For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, `We are his offspring.’            Acts 17:26-28

Our being here is no accident of random chance.   Many of those we knew of the older generations have passed on, but each person was unique.   We remember their kindness or perseverance, or quirks.  There are no replacements, and so we grieve.

If we are diminished by those we have lost, it is also conversely true that we are gifted whenever there is new life.  A friend sent a happy text this morning to announce the arrival of her new grand-daughter.  Several degrees of separation away, I can still share her joy.

Our local hospital has a custom of announcing the birth of a new baby by broadcasting the bells of a lullaby over their intercom.  It’s a cheery note of hope that makes us smile when we hear it.  Bells were messengers that announced departures,  and it’s a nice touch to have them proclaim new arrivals.  Either way, it’s a reminder that life is a very precious gift.



Sing the Poem

It’s in the rhyming,
Or maybe in the timing,
But the throbbing of the beat
Sets to tap-tapping my feet.

Poet, ply and play your trade
With poetry you have made.
Come sing with us, sun and moon!
Come dance on the lilt of the tune.  

Spring is still several weeks away, but there’s something about its approach that already lightens my mood in anticipation.   Soon heavy winter gear and wool sweaters can be stored away for another season.     And I look forward to a resurrection of new life as plants and trees rouse themselves from their long sleep to again fill the world with riotous colour.

Spring has its own challenges, true.  The force of nature in springtime can feel wild and chaotic and determined.  It will be wonderful to see the birds building their nests, but our resident woodpecker began yesterday, once more, to drill into our deck siding.  There’s work to be done in springtime, planting of gardens, grass to cut.

Winter has its icy dangers,  but I am always aware of our vulnerability in spring and summer as we move outdoors.  Life seems teeming and reckless in its abandon.  At least once in springtime, I will feel an overwhelming wave of sadness.  Spring and summer, when we are freer, can feel dangerous.  It’s more difficult to enclose and protect our loved ones from harm.

But in spring, sorrows don’t stay for long.  They recede in the warmth of the sun, in the breeze that caresses us like a lover and invites us once again to live our own lives fully.    Eternity is forever, but our time here is so limited that we want to take in all that we can.  As the poet Mary Oliver asked, “what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

And even if no one else is around, we can turn up the music and dance while we do our household chores.   We can dance in the dark, under the stars, in sacred solitude.