By Lin Brehmer

Listener Janine asked,

“Dear Lin,

I’m not sure if it’s the jingle bells of the season or, maybe, just the ringing in my ears from last night’s concert… but I was wondering, FOR WHOM DOES THE BELL TOLL?

Sincerely, Janine”

For whom the bell tolls is more than just a song by Metallica

For whom the bell tolls goes beyond the Ernest Hemingway novel about courage, duty, and self- sacrifice.

‘For whom the bell tolls’ takes us to 1623 and the metaphysical poet, John Donne.
John Donne, who asked,

“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.”

Centuries of meditation on our role in the world distilled by a poet into a few paragraphs about the chime of the bell.

The chime of freedom that cracked the liberty bell.

The bell takes its toll on the changes in our lives.

The bell rings the changes.

We hear the bell for its clarity and purity.

A baby’s first laughter sounds like a bell.

And how do we describe the most famous guitarist.

“He could play a guitar just like ringing a bell.”

The bell tolls for the blush of the bride and the flush of the groom.

There was a time before sirens and dispatchers when the bell sounded the alarm.

From celebration to solemn remembrance, we are drawn to the toll of the bells.

The bell tolls for both the heroes and the unknown.

The sad Bells of Rhymney tolled for coal miners who fought and died for a living wage.

We notice the bells for many reasons.

The bell is the song of remembrance.

If there is a fabric to humankind, it is surely vast. Knots as numerous and as fine as a Persian rug. Quilted. Coarse patches that overlap the
gossamer. And colors to stun the rainbow.

We are all a part of that weave.

An unspoken connection where a missing child a continent away brings tears to strangers.

John Donne said, “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.”

Those words not only unite us in the consciousness of our own mortality.

Those words unite us in the recognition of our common struggles and triumphs in this world.

Tomorrow is CBS CHICAGO CARES RED CROSS DAY OF GIVING. Make a contribution and you will hear the bells.

This is Lin’s Bin on 93XRT.


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