The Bell Struck

“I had been my whole life a bell, and never knew it until at that moment I was lifted and struck.”
— Annie Dillard (Pilgrim at Tinker Creek)

Last night I was reminded of a galvanizing moment in my life. I was talking with Ryan about it when he remembered this Annie Dillard quote. A quote that rang true. Pun intended.

In 1999, while my parents were living in London during a three year stint, we visited them in September. We had reveled in London’s pleasures for several days but took to the road on a Friday to drive south to Lewes, near the famous cliffs of Dover, to visit the home of Bloomsbury artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. It was balmy in England and the deep blacky purple elderberries lined the roads. The fields were the color of caramel.

Charleston, the house Vanessa and Duncan began to occupy in the early part of the 20th century, is now a restored historic site, open to visitors. They lived there for some 60 years, adorning its walls and furnishings with spontaneous acts of art. They lived through wars, untimely deaths (Vanessa’s son in war and her sister, Virginia Woolf, to suicide), love and hurt (though Duncan was gay, he was the father of Vanessa’s daughter), and many changes of seasons. The Bloomsbury group of artists and writers were itinerant visitors and occupants of the house through the 20s, 30s and 40s. I knew a tiny bit of this history before that Friday, but nothing prepared me for how I’d feel upon entering the grounds of Charleston.

Annie Dillard’s words describe more of how I felt than I could ever say. Until then my creative life continued to be put off with many an excuse. The visit to Charleston fired me with a sense of urgency that now was the time to start, not the time to wait until it was convenient. That urgency hasn’t left me, though it’s been expressed in a variety of ways—both physical and spiritual. For me the act of creative expression is a very spiritual thing, and when making or imagining something I feel the most alive, bell ringing and ringing and ringing and ringing.

14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Britta
    Dec 16, 2010 @ 02:59:37

    Dear Sue,

    Welcome, bienvenue to the blog world!
    Your blog is wonderful, so original and arty. Enjoy blogging and I am already excited to see new posts.

    Have fun !


  2. Deborah Falls
    Dec 16, 2010 @ 07:46:15

    Hey Sue,

    So nice to read this morning . Really lovely. I could read your blog every morning with my tea. No pressure. Love your gingerbread home.



  3. Sara Pinto
    Dec 16, 2010 @ 08:31:38

    So happy to see you in the universal space! Your life and work make beautiful contributions to the glorious cacophony of artists making this place a grand place to live. Miss you like mad, as per. Sara


  4. Shirley Novak
    Dec 16, 2010 @ 15:46:15

    LUCE !! You’re Beautiful inside and out, and now….Beautifully Bloggy too! I love who you are in this new expression……but many other ways too! As ever……g


  5. christine
    Dec 17, 2010 @ 16:31:05

    May be you will appreciate Virginia Woolf’s ” Life of Roger Fry “…
    Welcome for your beautiful and sensitive blog.


  6. gloriadelia
    Jun 08, 2011 @ 10:46:31

    This post rings a familiar bell within. Thanks, Gloris (sounds like Doris but with a Gl) 🙂


  7. Kristen
    Jun 09, 2011 @ 02:28:53

    I just fell in love with your blog and photographs. As soon I finish commenting I’m adding it to my google reader. Do you mind if I add your blog to my list of favorites on mine?



    • 129twigandvine
      Jun 09, 2011 @ 05:51:53

      Hi Kristen, I’d be honored to be part of your favorites. Thank you for your compliments. I just went to your blog and now I’m craving plums, though I see that what you’ve photographed are pluots. Beautiful photography! You’ve also reminded me to go out there and harvest some rhubarb. Warm wishes, Sue


      • Kristen
        Jun 09, 2011 @ 10:46:58

        Thanks Sue. To be honest, if I did a blind tasting I wouldn’t be able to tell which was the pluot and which was the plum jam because the pluots are that good this year. And yes, yes, yes go harvest some rhubarb.

  8. sannekurz
    Jun 13, 2012 @ 17:35:31

    You inspired me to go for a stroll to England, visit the Bloomsberg Group and Charleston – only virtually for now, hopefully soon out there!


  9. Carole Manley
    Feb 08, 2013 @ 15:37:37

    Reblogged this on Carole Manley and commented:
    I thought this might strike a whimsical chord with some as it did with me…



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