Some extraordinary things have been happening lately. I’ve noticed over the past few weeks that when everything looks particularly hopeless and awful, something good happens. The last couple of months haven’t exactly fit my life plan, but the past few days have seen some really rather good things happen.
About a month ago I stupidly managed to kill my iPhone by leaving it on the boot of the car then driving half an hour in the rain and leaving it in the rain overnight. It was no consolation proving I drive carefully. I missed a phone call I needed and had to go and buy a phone which although good, obviously isn’t an iPhone, and so it almost synchronises with my MacBook but not completely.
I lost touch with someone for reasons that were unclear to me at the time and also missed out on walking some dogs, as well as separately coming to the end of a work contract and not having a new one lined up. But two days ago the new phone rang very unexpectedly at 2 am and I spent the whole day yesterday walking with dogs, as I did again today, in the Suffolk countryside, as well as enjoying the company of someone I didn’t think I would be talking to again.
In a minor but important vein I made some really rather wonderful red pepper and sweet potato soup with herb dumplings and even if I did forget to put any baking soda in, it was an unexpectedly good supper.
A phone call this morning suggested a new work contract at more than double the fee for the last one, I was able to help someone, I got a six mile walk in today and just before throwing it in the bin when I checked the iPhone one last time after leaving it in a sealed plastic box with some rice and those gel sachets you get in new shoes, it started accepting a charge and after 20 minutes of being force fed electricity starting to reboot. Early days for that, but we’ll see.
I’ve been trying to start a new book and found through talking to someone that how it starts is obvious now.
I found the full text of the ‘For whom the bell tolls’ quote too. I first paid attention to it a long time ago, but I re-found it just recently. It’s here:
It tolls for thee…
Perchance he for whom this bell tolls may be so ill as that he knows not it
tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as
that they who are about me and see my state, may have caused it to toll for me,
and I knowt. The church is catholic, universal, so are all her actions;
all that she does belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action
concerns me, for that child is thereby connected to that head which is my head
too, and ingrafted into that body whereof I am a member. And when she buries a
man, that action concerns me. All mankind is of one author and is one volume;
when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into
a better language, and every chapter must be so translated. God employs several
translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war,
some by justice; but God’s hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind
up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie
open to one another. As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not upon
the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all;
but how much more me, who am brought so near the door by this sickness.
There was a contention as far as a suit (in which piety and dignity, religion
and estimation, were mingled) which of the religious orders should ring to
prayers first in the morning; and it was determined that they should ring first
that rose earliest. If we understand aright the dignity of this bell that tolls
for our evening prayer, we would be glad to make it ours by rising early, in
that application, that it might be ours as well as his whose indeed it is. The
bell doth toll for him that thinks it doth; and though it intermit again, yet
from that minute that that occasion wrought upon him, he is united to God. Who
casts not up his eye to the sun when it rises? But who takes off his eye from a
comet when that breaks out? Who bends not his ear to any bell which upon any
occasion rings? But who can remove it from that bell which is passing a piece of
himself out of this world? No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a
piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of
thy friend’s or of thine own were. Any man’s death diminishes me because I am
involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
it tolls for thee. . . .
John Donne, from Meditation 17
Maybe everything is connected. Today, although a lot of the afternoon was spent on my own rather than being involved in mankind except on Facebook, which probably isn’t what John Donne had in mind, I’m getting that feeling. Any man’s death diminishes me. And life is an odd and today a quietly happy and thankful thing.