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At 7:35 A.M., I awoke to this corrective dream:

I wear a hospital gown and lie upon a gurney, having just been rolled into the operating room for total knee replacement surgery. Last week, I had the same surgery and don’t understand why I have to go through this again. I look around. The room appears unclean, smelly; the nursing staff wears soiled scrubs—one of the nurses injects my mid-back. It stings. To my left, sets a leaden trough with body parts surgically removed from previous patients, earlier in the day.

This dream reveals darkness in my psyche that confounds my spiritual faculties: thinking and choosing. I am powerless, unable to stand on my own, so I believe. More knee surgery would remedy that, another concludes.

The gurney, a wheeled stretcher, takes me to the operating room, the theater of high drama where medicine, fused with technology, often brings about beneficial changes to patients, but not without physical and emotional pain. But this operating room is a toxic environment, with high risks of infection or loss of life. Despite knowing this, I remain helpless to change my circumstances.

Even the body parts surgically removed from previous patients should have roused me. I say nothing and let the plan proceed.

That my psyche was stunned by new energy diminishment the past two days is obvious: gnawing fears of being victim, of self-pity, of still working things out on my own. The dream seems to call for greater trust in God’s plan for my demise, not some credentialed authority in my psyche.

Although weak, I do have a voice.

Church bells, monastery bells, garden bells, handbells, alarm bells, electric bells, cowbells, jingle bells, ships’ bells, ice cream truck bells, and so many more—seems like bells have always been around. And indeed, they have. In 2000 BCE, with the advancement of metallurgy in ancient China, bells began to appear, slowly infusing themselves into its culture, religion, and way of life. Neighboring countries followed suit.

In addition to various weights of metals, today’s craftsmen produce bells in wood, glass, pottery, and stoneware.

When struck, their sound quickens us, instantly modifies our worlds and rouses feelings: joy, sorrow, fear, dread, order, or inspiration. As the strains fade from awareness, we return to our familiar world, and, if wise, savor the intrusion and learn from it.

Why do bells affect us so? On a deeper level, we consider their symbolic meaning: a universal means of communicating truth—As if the bell’s tongue carries a divine summons to pay attention. And as the poet Mary Oliver reminds us, “Be astonished! Tell about it!”

Time is passing.

 

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