Never Send To Know For Whom The Bell Tolls; It Tolls For Thee

By Kevin Schoen


Back in the day when someone in the village died the church would ring their bell. Naturally people would ask “For Whom The Bell Tolled.” It was a natural reaction to wonder in a small community who it was that died. Villagers all knew each other so ones death was personal to the whole village. It was a loss to all. In the small town of Minnesota City, Minnesota, a man just died suddenly. No doubt the locals all heard that their fellow resident, neighbor and friend came to the end of his earthly sojourn.

In his Meditation XVII, John Donne, the English clergyman and poet (1572-1631) penned, No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man 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 manor of thy friends or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankind; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.”

The church bells tolling was a sign of loss. John Donne wanted us to get the message that when one of us dies, the loss does not belong to the deceased; it does not belong only to the family; it does not belong only to the village. The loss belongs to the whole world. To his wife, children and grand kids, the loss is very personal. He won’t be taking pictures of them and his grand children. He won’t be flirting with the love of his life. They’ll have to adjust every time they smell home baked bread, realizing he wasn’t the one who baked it for them. For the world, there is one less really sweet man in our presence. A decrease in goodness in the world diminishes us all. When my best friend died, his wife said, “I found it comforting that he didn’t belong just to me; he belonged to the whole world.”

Who was this man who died in Minnesota City, Minnesota? His name was James Edmund Schoen. All who knew and loved him, myself included, are mourning a huge loss. He was my brother. He was a quiet guy in many ways. He thought being a good husband and a really good Dad was a worthy endeavor. I can tell you first hand he was a good brother too. He was a great cook with an ability to persuade others to try the unusual. He got me to try fried green tomatoes as well as fried parsnips! They were delicious! I digress.

I’m dedicating this blog entry to the memory of my sweet brother, Jim. In this world that is so divided and fractured, Jim was a contributor. Jim was a deep thinking, very loving, and always working on something kind of guy. The world is diminished by your absence, Jim. 

Please check out his gofundme page. A little help on medical bills goes a long way, if you are so inclined.