7:30 BELLS: "Make One Little Room an Everywhere"

What are the minimal conditions we need to hear the bells ring—to feel alive?  I wondered about this as I rested on the couch flattened by a virus. Do the bells only ring loudly when we stride through life? Do they only ring faintly when we become vulnerable or weak?

When I began 7:30 BELLS year ago, I equated hearing the bells ring with feeling vigorously alive. (And I do love the wild pealing!) But after a year of listening for the bells, I've learned there are shadings of feeling alive. Joy and creativity, certainly. But reflection, quiet, community, and emotions like gratitude, sadness, and courage—these make us feel alive, too.  

As the days passed on my couch, I noticed how my garage roof changed with the light, weather, and time of day. The moving sun made different shadow depths and angles on the overlapping shingles. The sheen of rain made them look like waves rolling in to shore. In the twilight, the ridge shingles strutted like rooster hackle feathers. Seeing in a new way made the bells ring.

This is as simple as noticing. As paying attention. As connecting with whatever world we find ourselves in, no matter how small. William Blake's famous poem Auguries of Innocence says this well: 

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower, 
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, 
And eternity in an hour. 

John Donne has a marvelous line in his poem, The Good-Morrow, directed at lovers. “And makes one little room an everywhere.”

The size of our world is irrelevant. If circumstances limit us to one room, the quality of attentive living we bring to it can transform it into infinity. As long as I can focus on the world outside me, be that only from a couch, one little room can be an everywhere. And from it can come poems, stories, art, love--and bells that wildly, softly, musically ring.

Listening for the bells makes
“one little room an everywhere.”

7:30 BELLS is posted ever Tuesday at 10:30 AM PST.
7:30 BELLS Guest Posts are posted on the second Tuesday of every month. Join me on March 11 for a guest post by author Frances O'Roark Dowell.