Ring the Bells That Still Can Ring: Questions in Times of Change.
“There is a feeling we have sometimes of betraying some mission that we were mandated to fulfill, and being unable to fulfill it. And then coming to understand that the real mandate was not to fulfill it. And that the deeper courage was to stand guiltless in the predicament in which you find yourself.” ~ Leonard Cohen
What happens when things fall? What happens when all your frenzied attempts to put the pieces back have failed? Can you stand in the ruins of what you believed or hoped for, held on to so tightly, and still find beauty among the ashes? Will you accept the challenge of making something different from the shards, something that isn’t what you hoped for, but that can be beautiful nonetheless?
It takes courage to allow the preconceptions to fall, and to face the world without the assumptions you thought were necessary. Sometimes the story needs to change. Sometimes no one follows the script, leaving you with a painful choice: to keep playing your part, or to craft new lines.
Sometimes the part you are used to playing isn’t all you are capable of. What uncharted waters lie beyond the realms you know? Here be monsters!
And do they howl! The instant you step beyond the realm of Normal, they’re waiting. There is a different chorus of voices for each one of us, some rooted in very personal experiences and some shared collectively with our geographical or spiritual communities.
The most frightening are shared with every fellow human who now lives or ever has, passed along through our ancestry and rooted in our very cells. How will you answer those voices?
Can you stand to be enveloped in the nighttime of all the horrors that linger from the past, and the unseen challenges that lie ahead, or will you hide your face and hope that dawn comes soon? No amount of wishing will silence those voices, nor will running away.
Sooner or later, the shadows have to be faced, be listened to, and their demands met. Else, they will become more insistent and disruptive in their haunting.
Can we become like bells, so that as Rilke said, what batters us becomes our strength? What songs do you hold, deep down in your very being, waiting to be unleashed like the bell’s peal? Maybe we don’t even know the music we are capable of until obstacles strike and a new chord rings out.
All our unanswered questions might just be bells that haven’t been struck yet, and the simple curiosity required to ask is all it takes for them to toll.
Sometimes questions are the only way forward, a faint and haunting music that leaves clues for you as you follow the quest. Sometimes the questions answer themselves by the way they draw you further along. Often, you might not like the answer.
The path that the quest leads to is almost certainly not the one you had planned for. Are you brave enough to ask, knowing there is no guarantee what answer you will receive?
Will you turn and face that which is flawed, and love it with all its cracks and holes? There is nothing in this world that hasn’t been broken, probably innumerable times down through history. Sometimes the pieces don’t fit back together. Would you want them to?
As unwelcome as change might be, once growth has started it can’t be undone. And once we’ve grown beyond what we thought were our limitations, how can we go back to the old containers?
The world in general is now being battered more fiercely than ever, and bells are tolling loudly, calling for growth and change. What new chords can you discover, music that you didn’t remember but that calls to you like a friend?
What new paths can you take, leading toward destinations that have not been chosen for you? How much that is old and outworn can you re-forge into something that better serves you?
In the end, I think Leonard Cohen gave some of the best advice for making it through times such as ours.
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”
Jessica Myscofski is a passionate writer and photographer with an enthusiasm for the natural world, for soulful travel, for asking the bigger questions. When not tramping around with a camera, she can probably be found with a book and a dog. She would love to see you over at her website or Facebook business page.