Most activities in the physical monastery start with a bell. Time to rise: the bell rings. Time to pray: the bell rings. The sections of a monastic day are spoken into being by the bells.
Part of me hungers for such bells. I almost crave the insistent rhythms
of their voices. Predictable, familiar, reliable, steady bells that
would insure my prayer and rest; bells that would regulate and balance
the pieces of my life.
Out here in the world, my "bells" are unpredictable. I cannot count on their sameness from week to week. "Just as soon as we are familiar with one set of daily bells ringing," wrote one of you, "another replaces them."
Don't we know the truth of this.
Seasons come and go, calling us to answer school bells and wake-up bells, church
bells and wedding bells, baby cries and doorbells and phone bells and stovetop buzzers. They change with every passing year.
Predictable, reliable, steady? No. Out here, things cannot be that way.
Calls to prayer, too, are far from automatic. I must find
ways to ring the "prayer bells" for myself. Notes stuck to a mirror, a watch alarm, a
phone beep. I have to make my own reminders.
When it comes to prayer, I must ring my own bells.
(this is edited from earlier posts in our archives)
Anonymous painting, 1877, in US public domain due to age