The book pens a journey with Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a framework for pondering life lessons, or songs, of grace-filled "yes" to God.

This blog continues to explore the implications of these songs in daily life. Here you will find ten additional reflections on each of Mary's "songs." May they continue to encourage your heart. ~Carla

Monday, August 10, 2009

Tolling Wisdom

I just spent a week on an island off the coast of Maine, as close to the water as was physically possible without living in it. I saw sea gulls and sunsets, waves and rocks. But what I heard was a bell.

A small rocky island just off my own varied in visibility with the changing tide, and, except in moments of calm, high tide, a small green buoy rang its constant warning: there are hidden rocks here. Day and night: travelers beware.

Among my constant companions was the “The Dry Salvages” from T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets. Late in the week I read these words as for the first time: “And under the oppression of the silent fog/The tolling bell/Measures time not our time, rung by the unhurried/Ground swell”

The tolling bell! Traveler beware. An unpredictable cadence of the sea’s time, with the tone of Donne’s church bell.

And now, back home with that haunting clang still ringing in my ears, I find myself praying for an increased sensitivity to the arrhythmic, tolling bell of wisdom’s deeps--

Let the rope out a little farther for your growing son, lest you both crash against the rocks. Speak these next words in kindness—or not at all—your mouth is perilously close to danger. Listen, listen to the quiet tolling bell of the Holy Spirit’s check in your spirit. It’s low tide and the rocks are sharp. Proceed with care.

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)


  1. I can hear the bell - as I have heard one many times before when I have been on the water. I wonder though, if you have to be quiet to hear the bell? If you had been bustling about the island, doing this or that, the bell would have just gone into the background. Yet, by quieting yourself, being intune with the world around you, paying attention to sounds, winds and your surroundings, you were able to hear the tolling bell. My life needs intentional quiet to hear the tolling bell. When I am too busy to be, I miss it. It is just another noise in the background. But by quieting myself, being intune with what is happening in my life, I can hear the bell when it is just ringing or when it is tolling loudly. Just a thought.

  2. Hi Mimi!
    Fabulous observation--you are right, both on an island and in life. I found myself occasionally gifted by a great internal quiet out there--and longing for that same internal attention when the context is not full of overwhelming beauty, but overwhelming challenges and concerns. The bell with a a time and a wisdom of its own is always ringing. For Eliot, I think it was the relentless sound of time's passage. For me it is the reminder of the precious, unreturnable gift of a moment.