I sat outside the Virginia Supreme Court on a misty Thursday morning in Richmond, the spring blossoms blowing across the sidewalk. Inside, the court was convening at 9:00 a.m. to deliver their decision as the bells of St. Paul’s next door began to toll and then mark the hour.
As I waited and listened, I was reminded of John Donne’s well-known poem.
No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.