Perspective: About That Bell That Keeps Tolling...

Nov 8, 2019

The hard part of living is the dying. 

 
I’m not talking about me. I know life ends for us all. But lately the hard part of living is knowing -- and seeing -- others who are dying. 

 

The poet John Donne spelled it out for me when I was in high school. I’ve gone back to his words many times. He wrote: 

 

No man is an island, 

Entire of itself, 

Every man is a piece of the continent, 

A part of the main. 

If a clod be washed away by the sea, 

Europe is the less. 

 
He finishes saying: 

 

And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;  

It tolls for thee.  

 
Understanding those words is one thing. Feeling them is another. 

 

Like a few weeks ago … I opened the newspaper to a shock. My neighbor Paul had died.  

 


Our friendship involved chats in driveways and waves across the yard and swapping favors. He was a good neighbor. I often would see Paul and his wife outside … always working their yard — mowing, planting, decorating for holidays -- a testament to the beauty of nature. 

 
Now it’s strange. Like seeing a photo with a white outline of what used to be there. Paul is gone and I feel it. And I’m just a neighbor.  

 

But that’s the point — a part of me has fallen into that sea Donne was talking about. In the last few years I’ve become a jigsaw man with many parts of me sliding off. Family. Friends.  

 
Even as I speak there is a bell tolling. Someone has died. The news reports it every day.  

 

Or the local paper, where I heard a bell tolling for Paul.  

 

And as Donne says, tolling also for me.  

 
… And thee.  

 

I’m Lonny Cain … and that’s my Perspective.