“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.