My father was a mechanic and taught me many things–not the least of which was to fix things. Growing up, he worked very hard to provide me with what I needed to live but also to play. One of my favorite toys was a toy fire truck that I could peddle. One of the most memorable things I did was ring the bell. I can still remember doing this even though I was not yet three years of age. Even today when I hear a small bell my mind races back to those days. The picture on the left was taken in Bakersfield, California in 1950. The picture on the right was taken 65 years later on April 10 in 2015.
The fire truck has long gone. But I have kept the bell all these years. The clacker is gone–sometime a long time ago it was replaced by a bolt tied to a piece of wire. It has aged in parallel with me: creaky, rusty and not a loud clang anymore. It is still an important talisman. I once contemplated having it cleaned and repainted. By decided that it will age with me. A reminder that all these shift and change.
The following “Bell” lyrics, written by Leonard Cohen and performed in “Night Magic” are special to me. When I listen to this song, I think of my bell. I think of what is passed but I do not dwell. I do not let what will happen tomorrow impact my presence in today. I am grateful that my bell still tolls. When it does the light shines through.
The birds they sang at break of day
Start again, I heard them say
Nor dwell on what has passed away
Or what is yet to be.
The wars they will be fought again
The holy dove be caught again
Bought and sold and bought again
Until we set them free.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
The light behind to see.
Add up the parts, not yours the sum
Strike up the march, there is no drum
Every heart to love must come
Like a refugee