Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Bell

We went to Goodwill to look for i-pods—a lot of them go second hand these days.  I didn't expect to see the bell.  It sat in the glass case (lacking of electronic music players unfortunately) with dorje rubberbanded to the top of it.  It made me think of the movie Kundun—wasn't there a bell like that in it?

I'm notoriously shy.  I hate counters and customer service representatives… one reason I'm not into jewelry.  Buying it is too embarrassing.  But we were there already, my husband looking over electronic something-or-others, and so I peered at it through the glass, to shy to ask just yet.

Indian, I told myself.  An Indian Buddhist bell.  Somehow it'd be less of a let down then if I did find out it was Indian.  I wanted the bell anyway, even if it was Indian.  The tag read 19.99.  Could I really afford something so frivolous… something so pagan?  What if it was a cheap fake?  Could the bell really be worth that.

I thought; I agonized; I paced.  I probably would have sent shudders of irritation through countless generations of Tibetan monks with my wanting, wish, desiring of the bell.  God was probably rolling his eyes at him.  I went home and looked up Indian (and Tibetan) bells online.  

Okay, so yes, Buddhist Mysticism fascinates me.  So does Islamic Mysticism.  One mystic tradition calls to another.  As Thomas Merton says, who better than Western Mystics to investigate Eastern Mystics and see what we all have in common?  I love music, culture, and mystic traditions.  And Christianity has a long history of borrowing things it likes.  I like the bell.  So yes, I looked up online.

Not a good deal, but not a bad one either.

With a deep breath I went back to the Goodwill counter and asked for the bell.  Looking it over I'd seen enough online to see it was in fact Tibetan, not Indian.  Not as fancy as some, but also perfectly authentic with the "made in Nepal" sticker still on it.  A little worn.  Makes me wonder who used it for what… or if it was just the mold it was made in that was worn.  Somehow I doubt some Buddhist has been using my bell until it looks worn out.

Where ever it comes from, it sings with a long echoing tone.  Each time I sit down at my computer I make a joyful noise to the Lord.