by W.S. MERWIN
W.S. Merwin invites me to immerse myself
in the ordinary minutiae of my world -
natural and man-made.
He asks me to dwell in the quiet unnamed spaces.
The fruit of my attentiveness is that -
now and again -
the veil lifts and
I encounter the Divine.
I spent a lot of time reflecting on Anthony de Mello's Temple Bells.
The temple was built on an island and it held a thousand bells.
Bells big and small, fashioned by the the finest craftsmen in the world.
When the wind blew of a storm raged,
all the bells would peal out in a symphony that would send the heart of the hearer into raptures.
But over the centuries the island sank into the sea and, with it, the temple bells.
An ancient legend said that the bells continued to peal out, ceaselessly,
and could be heard by anyone who would listen.
Inspired by this legend, a young man traveled thousands of miles, determined to hear those bells.
He sat for days on the shore, facing the vanished island, and listened with all his might.
But all he could hear was the sound of the sea.
He made every effort to block it out.
But to no avail; the sound of the sea seemed to flood the world.
He kept at his task for weeks. Each time he got disheartened he would listen to the village pundits,
who spoke with unction of the mysterious legend.
Then his heart would be aflame…
only to become discouraged again when weeks of further effort yielded no results.
Finally he decided to give up the attempt.
Perhaps he was not destined to hear the bells.
Perhaps the legend was not true.
It was his final day,
and he went to the short to say goodbye to the sea and the sky and the wind and the coconut trees.
He lay on the sand, and for the first time, listened to the sound of the sea.
Soon he was so lost in the sound that he was barely conscious of himself,
so deep was the silence that the sound produced.
In the depth of that silence, he heard it!
The tinkle of the tiny bell followed by another, and another, and another.. and soon
every one of the thousand temple bells was pealing out in harmony,
and his heart was rapt in joyous ecstasy.
Do you wish to hear the temple bells? Listen to the sound of the sea.
Do you wish to catch a glimpse of God? Look intently at creation.
This time I fully stuffed the legs and arms.
I cut out a simple shift from blue acrylic felt,
and set about cutting out these words:
"Look into life with quiet eyes.
Yield into the mystery of it
and dwell there in the quiet