Tuesday, September 24, 2013

7:30 BELLS: The Golden Hunt

Knife in hand, I prowled the mossy wood, searching for gold. Not gold nuggets, not gold coins, but the golden caps of chanterelle mushrooms. Some hid under Oregon grape, humus, and fallen leaves. Some, like those in this photo, sang out against the green. I walked, scanning the ground, thrilled each time I spotted gold. I knelt, my fingers probing for the stem, sometimes loosening the dirt and twigs around it before cutting. After double checking the species, I dropped the chanterelle in my bucket and began searching again.

Every sense intent on finding treasure, I thought of nothing else. My bucket half full, I glanced up from the hunt. At quiet woods. At streaming sun. At the first day of Autumn. My husband’s bucket clanked in the distance. And I heard the bells ring, slowly, steadily, with the somberness that comes from sanctity. I smiled.

Then I returned my total attention to the hunt, looking for food—and being fed.

The Treasure is the Rapture of Attention

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

7:30 BELLS: If the Bells Fall Silent, Move your Window

What we see depends on where we build our windows--as this picture of the new house going up at the Farm shows. What stunning views we miss if our windows are in the wrong place, or too small.

We grow up in a house with the windows already in place. Sometimes those windows are right for us, but sometimes they aren't. We're born into a house whose windows are determined by our family background, our culture, our education, our religion. This can make it hard to move the windows, because sometimes we don’t even know our view is being limited.

Eventually we may feel unease, realize we can’t hear any bells ring through these windows, or only hear them dimly.

So I ask myself, what am I missing? What can't I hear? Am I looking at the world squeezed through someone else’s determination of what I should see? I want to build my own house, decide where I want the windows to be. 

Sometimes to move the window, you have to start by tearing down the walls that hold it, brick by brick. To have a life that continues to thrive and grow, you have to keep moving the windows.

Whenever I move a window, new light pours in. And I can hear the bells ringing again. 

Looking through the windows you've chosen yourself
makes the bells ring.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

730 BELLS GUEST POST: Ringing by Water

I'm so pleased this week to have Bonny Becker, a best-selling picture book author with keen insights on the writing craft, share what makes the bells ring for her--what makes her feel most alive.

"A brook, a pond, a pool, the ocean… I love water. Maybe it’s all those negative ions. I always feel good by the ocean or a waterfall. But it’s probably more the attention paid. Near the water, I notice the natural sounds—the sigh and push of ocean waves, the lap-lap of a lake, the burble of a creek. That always slows me down and I can start to really see.

"Of course, the pretty sparkles are a big part of it: who doesn’t love the way light gleams off tiny ripples or streams through an ocean wave? But I especially like to look to see what’s below. Wavering lozenges of light on the swimming pool bottom; the sand and small rocks gleaming beneath the water at a lake’s edge; the silvery flicker of minnows; the glide of a trout.

"All my senses get involved: that salty sea smell or the musty, green smell of pond algae. I like to plant my feet and feel the sand pile up and pull away again with the ocean waves or to step into the spray of a waterfall. Sometimes I pat the surface of a bath feeling the slight pushback of the water—my hand like a waterbug.

"I feel good just writing about it! A moment by the water is a moment “of bells” for me.
      Paying attention with all your senses 
                                                                                                   makes the bells ring.  

Bonny Becker is the author of twelve books for children, including the best-selling picture book A Visitor for Bear, and the award-winning The Magical Ms. Plum, a middle-grade featuring a magical third-grade teacher. Bonny teaches at the Whidbey Writers MFA Program in Creative Writing. Read more about her at her website: bonnybecker.com

Friday, September 6, 2013



Where is the trail that wound?
Where is the balsam that bloomed?
Where is the maple that held me?
Behind the gate that is closed.

Enter the river that flows,
Lilt in the boat that cradles,
Sail on the breath that blows me,
Over the opening sea.

Dia Calhoun
August 2013

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

7:30 BELLS: Herald of Galaxies

Tonight, watching the evening star set in the western sea brings sadness—sadness for the end of summer and for the end of something important in my own life. Then I remind myself that the evening star isn’t moving, I am, with the turning earth. Because I look west toward the setting star, my back faces the direction the earth is revolving. And so backward I fall toward night.

Vertigo strikes as my mind grasps this headlong backward rush toward the endless stars. When something in life is ending, vanishing, or setting, I must remember that I’m only turning toward vastness. 

The evening star falling into the western sea is but a herald of galaxies to come.

Turning toward vastness makes the bells ring.