Wow. These are uncertain times, aren't they? They were uncertain a few months ago, but now that uncertainty is dialed way up. It hits us in every area - job, free time, friend time, alone time, travel, dreams of the future, school, art and music. It has hit us here at the Lab, too, and finally, thanks to a friend who created a brilliant little art work ("Answering Service" - dial 888-691-3111 and explore!) we've started a new notebook for our Notes on the Lab of Life, and here we are.
Please have a listen, and of course, share if you're so inclined.
Take care, stay safe, and wash your hands. A lot.
Here's the transcript of the piece, written and recorded by Silvie Zamora.
The crash of hailstorms, the blast of hurricanes, the violence of tempests, the fury of winds, and the malice of thunderbolts. There are means to impede these “powers of the air,” they thought back in the Middle Ages, and one of those ways was to ring a bell. A consecrated bell, a big one, hung from a belltower.
Cut to today, this morning at 11. In fact, every morning at 11 (or a couple minutes before or after) the bell tolls.
It doesn’t go to eleven, by the way. Not every day, anyway. Sometimes 12, sometimes 9 or 10. Today was 13.
I had taken to rushing to the nearest window, and breathing in the sound.
I wanted to find the source. To thank this person for those few seconds of peace. The ceasing of whatever important thing I was doing, so I could just stop and be.
I imagined a monk, signaling the beginning of a daily meditation with that beautiful, resonant G flat tone.
We couldn’t tell where it was coming from. Whichever window you opened, there it was. Last week, after days of guessing, my husband raced out the front door and down the street in an easterly direction. He came back triumphant. He had found her. And the next day, he took me there to watch it happen.
It was the house with the lawn signs proclaiming NO 5G, and STOP THE ALIEN TAKE OVER. There were pictures of aliens, the green-headed kind, heavier on top, with big, black eyes. You’ve seen them. You can get masks, party balloons, and all manner of tchotchkes with them emblazoned on them.
And there was a bell. Not the kind that swings, the kind you strike with a mallet or pull on a rope that causes the clapper inside to strike the sound bow. To use the proper term, it was hung dead.
She came out of her house cheerily. We asked if we could video her. She declined, with a big smile. She rang the bell.
We looked at her many alien images, bumper stickers, lawn signs, all warning of doom. And we listened to the sound that for centuries was used to call to worship, to commemorate weddings, to memorialize/remember the dead, to drive away all the spirits of the tempest, the powers of the air.
She told us, “They say let freedom ring, but nobody rings bells anymore.”
I don’t know what she wishes her bell ringing will do. Is she hoping to bring people, searching for the source, to the portent of her lawn signs? Is she calling us to prayer for ourselves? Is she hoping, in the words of a French prayer in the ritual of consecrating bells, to “put to flight the fiery darts of the enemy of men?”
The crash of hailstorms, the blast of hurricanes, the violence of tempests, the fury of winds, and the malice of thunderbolts.
To calm the storm without and the storm within, I’m very grateful for a few seconds of pause, with my own breath, with a beautiful tone that floats on the powers of the air.