The Temple and the Bell

I wrote this poem for my Clinical Pastoral Education (chaplaincy training program at Penrose St Francis, Colorado Springs).

February 2015


The Temple and the Bell

Somewhere there is a temple,

Buddhist or Christian,

on a hillside

overlooking the persistent

crashing ocean waves.


And in that temple is a bell.

It rings before the morning prayer.

It rings before vespers.

The monks put away their brooms,

The nuns file away their papers,

and they make their way to the chapel

to chant and to pray.


The sound of the bell

is the breaking through of eternity

in the everyday chores of life.


The sound of the bell

has lived on this hillside

for generations,

during the floods,

and when food was scarce,

and when the wars came.


The bell knows its work.

To signal the coming of the next thing.

To call the ones gathered to mindfulness.

To remind each one of their beat and beating heart.

To sing a song of hope and remembrance and gratitude.

To bring them back to their deepest selves.


You are the temple and the bell,

you help me to see the way home.





Author: readingcarlsandburg

I am a Unitarian Universalist minister, serving as a hospital chaplain. I am from Galesburg, Illinois, originally, now living in Colorado Springs. I love the radical Sandburg.

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