Wilderness Therapy
Story - The Temple Bells
Journey of Hearts 
A Healing Place in CyberSpaceTM

The following story comes via Fr. Brian Cavanaugh, TOR  from Franciscan University Steubenville OH. A new visitor to the site, who's site, Apple Seeds, has additional stories and quotes of inspiration. This story was truly inspiring to me.
The feelings of being at the ocean for me helped to explain what I mean by "Wilderness Therapy." The essence of the experience is that one can get so lost in being out in nature, that you no longer are conscious of anything else but the steady sound of the waves and the beating of your heart.

The Temple Bells
by Anthony de Mello, SJ

The temple had stood on an island two miles out to sea. And it held a thousand bells. Big bells, small bells, bells fashioned by the best craftsmen in the world. When a wind blew or a storm raged, all the
temple bells would peal out in unison, producing a symphony that sent the heart of the hearer into raptures.

But over the centuries the island sank into the sea and, with it, the temple and the bells. An ancient tradition said that the bells continued to peal out, ceaselessly, and could be heard by anyone who listened attentively. Inspired by this tradition, a young man traveled thousands of miles, determined to hear those bells. He sat for days on the shore, opposite the place where the temple had once stood, and listened--listened with all his heart. But all he could hear was the sound of the waves breaking on the shore. He made every effort to push away the sound of the waves so that he could hear the bells. But all to no avail; the sound of the sea seemed to flood the universe.

He kept at his task for many weeks. When he got disheartened he would listen to the words of the village pundits who spoke with unction of the legend of the temple bells and of those who had heard them and proved the legend to be true. And his heart would be aflame as he heard their
words . . . only to become discouraged again when weeks of further effort yielded no results.

Finally he decided to give up the attempt. Perhaps he was not destined to be one of those fortunate ones who heard the bells. Perhaps the legend was not true. He would return home and admit failure. It was his final day, and he went to his favorite spot on the shore to say goodbye to the sea and the sky and the wind and the coconut trees. He lay on the sands, gazing up at the sky, listening to the sound of the sea. He did not resist that sound that day. Instead, he gave himself over to it, and found it was a pleasant, soothing sound, this roar of the waves. Soon he became so lost in the sound that he was barely conscious of himself, so deep was the silence that the sound produced in his heart.

In the depth of that silence, he heard it! The tinkle of a tiny bell followed by another, and another and another . . . and soon every one of the thousand temple bells was pealing out in glorious unison, and his heart was transported with wonder and joy.

If you wish to hear the temple bells, listen to the sound of the sea. If you wish to see God, look attentively at creation. Don't reject it; don't reflect on it. Just look at it.

Anthony de Mello, SJ
 copyright The Song of the Bird
Last updated June 12, 1998
The Temple Bells is by Anthony de Mello, SJ copyright in The Song of the Bird.
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