Ring the Bells that Still Can Ring

Leonard Cohen, Pencil Drawing Created this Morning

There is a crack, a crack in everything. Thats how the light gets in.

Leonard Cohen, “Anthem”

The church bells from Sacred Heart across the street from the gallery woke me this morning, as they always do. But this Saturday morning was different. As I listened, I heard in my mind’s ear Leonard Cohen singing “Anthem”–“Ring the bells that still can ring . . . ” Tears came to my eyes. Really. I found myself wishing I had packed his book The Flame for my weeklong stay here in Palestine. The Flame is a collection of Cohen’s final writings and fragments he had attempted to publish before his death. Fortunately for us, his son gathered up all the work, edited it and wrote a precious Introduction. Now I wish I had it in hand to read today.

I feel thoroughly refreshed by Cohen’s rich collection of ideas this morning. For a number of days I’ve felt flat; ideas were not coming, and I expect them. When I stop experiencing such visitations, my world loses its color and flavor. I’m going to try now to explain what I mean by all this . . .

The Neo-Orthodox theologian Karl Barth discussed how the word of God becomes The Word through the act of proclamation. When I first read this, too much Fundamentalist ideology inherited from my youth was still clinging to me. I thought the Word of God was the King James Version of the Bible. Fortunately I grew beyond that in the ensuing years. I believe now that the Word, the Oracle, is potential at any moment of any day, through any avenue. Teaching for three decades, I always hoped that the words I put out would occasionally become a Word for that particular student who was lost, floundering. Every time I found out that something I said or wrote touched someone profoundly, I felt like sinking to my knees in prayer of genuine gratitude. I want everyone to know that sublime feeling of being touched by the reception of a Word.

This morning, Leonard did that to me by way of the church bells tolling. The visitation still leaves me trembling inside. I showered and breakfasted with only one thing in mind–getting downstairs to the Gallery and digging out supplies so I could render Leonard’s portrait in pencil. I did it. I framed it. I’m offering it through the Gallery now for $50. If no one purchases it, then I will continually enjoy its company as often as I look up to see it.

$50 Framed 8 x 10″ Pencil Drawing in The Gallery at Redlands

Sacred Heart Church seen from inside The Gallery at Redlands

To all my readers, I wish the best of Saturdays. As for myself I’m delighted that I’ll be staying here in Palestine till the middle of next week. Come by for a visit if you are in the area. And I hope that in the midst of today, a special Word will come your way. When it does, embrace it.

Thanks for reading.

I make art in order to discover.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself I am not alone.

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5 Responses to “Ring the Bells that Still Can Ring”

  1. Stacy Campbell Says:

    Glorious blog today, thank you. Your drawing is beautiful and I can see it is from the heart.

    Like

  2. davidtripp Says:

    Stacy, thank you. This was a tearful one from start to finish.

    Like

  3. Jan C. Johnson Says:

    Wow. I just found a YouTube video of Cohen performing “Anthem.” Or rather, presenting it from his heart. Stunning. Profound.
    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Like

  4. Frank Hudson Says:

    Yes, lovely to think of Leonard Cohen.

    I now hear in Cohen’s Anthem echoes of Alfred Tennyson’s section of In Memoriam sung as “Ring Out Wild Bells.” I associated Cohen with French and Spanish language poets when young, but I now see that he snuck in little references to poets like Tennyson and Longfellow.

    The well-known setting of Ring Out Wild Bells is a little too stately for me, so I did my own music and sang Tennyson’s words differently.

    Ring Out Wild Bells

    Like

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