Archives, Biography, Pondering, Wheaton

Tolling Wisdom

A tolling buoy in the Atlantic Ocean.

I just spent a week on an island off the coast of Maine, as close to the water as was physically possible without living in it. I saw sea gulls and sunsets, wavesand rocks. But what I heard was a bell.

A small rocky island just off my own varied in visibility with the changing tide and, except in moments of calm, high tide, a small green buoy rang its constant warning: there are hidden rocks here. Day and night: travelers beware.

Among my constant companions on this trip was the “The Dry Salvages” from T.S. Eliot’s The Four Quartets. Late in the week I read these words as for the first time:

“And under the oppression of the silent fog/The tolling bell/Measures time not our time, rung by the unhurried/Ground swell”

The tolling bell! Traveler beware. An unpredictable cadence of the sea’s time, with the tone of Donne’s church bell.

And now, back home with that haunting clang still ringing in my ears, I find myself praying for an increased sensitivity to the arrhythmic, tolling bell of wisdom’s deeps- Let the rope out a little farther for your growing son, lest you both crash against the rocks. Speak these next words in kindness-or not at all–your mouth is perilously close to danger. Listen, listen to the quiet tolling bell of the Holy Spirit’s check in your spirit. It’s low tide and the rocks are sharp. Proceed with care.

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

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