Sunday Morning

“She had described her home and her life in a way that had often returned to me during those years and that I could still clearly recall. Her description of the town where she lived – a place I had never been to, though I knew it wasn’t far from here – and of its beauty had been particularly tenacious: it had often, as I had said, returned to my mind, to the extent that I had wondered why it did. The reason, I thought, was that this description had a finality to it that I couldn’t imagine ever attaining in my own circumstances. She had talked about the placid neighbourhood where she had her home with her husband and children, with its cobbled streets too narrow for cars to pass down, so that nearly everyone travelled by bicycle, and where the tall, slender gabled houses were set back behind railings from the silent waterways on whose banks great trees stood, holding out their heavy arms so that they made plunging green reflections in the stillness below, like mirrored mountains. Through the windows you could hear the sounds of footsteps on the cobbles below and the hiss and whirr of bicycles passing in their shoals and drifts; and most of all you could hear the bells that rang unendingly from the town’s many churches, striking not just the hours but the quarter and half hours, so that each segment of time became a seed of silence that then blossomed, filling the air with what almost seemed a kind of self-description. The conversation of these bells, held back and forth across the rooftops, was continued night and day: its cadences of observation and agreement, its passages of debate, its longer narratives – at matins and evensong, for instance, and most of all on Sundays, the repeating summons building and building until it was followed at last by the joyous, deafening exposition – comforted her, she had said, as the sound of her parents’ lifelong conversation had comforted her in her childhood, the rise and fall of their voices always there in the next room, discussing and observing and noting each thing that happened, as though they were making an inventory of the whole world. The quality of the town’s silence, she had said, was something she only really noticed when she went elsewhere, to places where the air was filled with the drone of traffic and of music blaring out of restaurants and shops and the cacophony from the endless construction sites where buildings were forever being torn down and then put up again. She would come home to a silence that at those times felt so refreshing it was like swimming in cool water, and she would for a period be aware of how the bells, far from disturbing the silence, were in fact defending it.”

~ Rachel Cusk, Kudos: A Novel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux; June 5, 2018)

Notes: Photo above & Book Review: ‘Kudos’ by Rachel Cusk deserves kudos indeed.  This book, the last of a trilogy, was named one of the NY Times Top 100 Books of the Year in 2018 and an Amazon Book of the Month in June 2018. Reader beware, imo, “Outline (Trilogy Book 1)” and Transit (Book 2) were preferred by this reader.


  1. How beautiful! She more than does justice to the sensory connection to home…a conversation of sorts, which i think is ongoing long after we move away.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Not too far into Michelle Obama’s Becoming. Can’t put it down. On every break at work yesterday I sat on the steps in the stock room to read few lines. So graceful.

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  3. I grew up with town bells every day and many different church bells on Sunday mornings until noon… here, too, the hours used to be rung out from St. Mary’s belfry, albeit not by hand anymore. Bells always said, “All is well.” I am defenseless, now.

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  4. Rachel Cusk, certainly paints a picture…her words flow beautifully along…the quote below speaks of awareness and appreciation…
    “so that each segment of time became a seed of silence that then blossomed”

    Liked by 1 person

  5. amazing how those sensory experiences from our past, that we took for granted and hardly noticed, can bring it all rushing back in an instant when we encounter them once more

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  6. It’s funny, because I still live in my hometown – having moved out for a total of six years only… and there are still differences from when I was younger. We talk often of our train. It was so close that every three months or so, we had to push back the glasses in our china cabinet… I can’t believe I almost miss living so close to the train…

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  7. Some times words distract us from their meaning. May we find the balance between communicating what we want to communicate, and the language that gets in the way just saying … or not at all 💛

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  8. I miss NOT hearing church bells where I live now. I somehow always managed to live in places where I was surrounded by churches with bells. In Devon, UK we had 11 churches in our close vicinity – mind you only 2 had bells (luckily for us). When we lived in Western Switzerland for a (far too) short while, we looked onto the face of the church clock from our tiny bedroom – that was the only time the tolling really, really got to me – they were clanking every quarter of an hour and always with an ‘intro’ plus then the full hour! The hours of my life I lost there, wide awake and dead-bone-tired…. But it was the best time anyway! AND they had the most glorious Bach concerts in that church, so that we only had to buy our tickets in advance but could literally slouch over in our house-shoes to listen… 🙂 (not true as everybody was VERY well dressed, the tickets VERY expensive and the quality über-magnificent, so – of course – you dress for the event!)

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  9. I wish I could write descriptive passages like that..

    Liked by 1 person


  1. […] So far today, I’ve learned of America’s first martyr, I’ve been reminded of the bells of home, my hope has suddenly swung upward, and I have been prepared for renewal by a crocus. And I know […]

    Liked by 1 person

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