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Ordinary Life-The Bells
9/25/2008 - Jan  Bridgeford-Smith

I live in a large, old parsonage on the village Main Street. Looking out the window next to my desk I can see the public “square”. Fronting the square’s Main Street perimeter is a large monument to veterans. Six flag poles stand at attention behind a single cannon with an eagle mounted on a 30 foot pedestal. A raised flower bed of red geraniums, white alyssum and blue bachelor buttons completes the monument tableaux. Frankly, as monuments go, this is a pretty unimaginative, lackluster example. But there you have it. Some long ago village elders liked it just fine, I suspect because it can’t be taken for anything other than what it is…guns, flags and glory thank you very much.

It appears the cannon is taking direct aim on the large, brown brick Methodist church, my husband’s church, that sits across the street. I find myself often wanting to yell through the stained glass windows, “Hey God, look out. Friendly fire” whenever I stroll past this strange shrine. For the sake of my husband’s dignity, I contain myself.

The Catholics worship in a large, stone edifice that anchors the other corner of the block occupied by the Methodist church and parsonage. As the Methodist pastor’s wife, I would never stand in Sunday services and announce what I am about to write—I love the Catholics. Of course I love them in the Christian-love-everybody manner that a pastor’s wife must accommodate—at least in public--but my real reason for loving the Catholics is their daily habit of ringing church bells.

Hearing the unmistakable rich tone each morning, I stop for a few seconds and revel in the sound. The bells signal that in a few minutes, some number of people or just one—the priest--will be praying for the world. I like this idea especially as I sip my coffee and listen to the radio news summarizing yet another day of man-made chaos and despair. Continuous praying everywhere is probably not enough to right the world but knowing my neighbors are doing their part in this regard gives me a sense of quiet satisfaction.

But it’s more than the world’s need for prayer that catches my attention when the bells chime. I love the bells because the sound reminds me I am connected with all the other ordinary folks that have lived and died or perhaps, at the right moment simply passed through this unremarkable place and listened to the bells.

I stop for the bells knowing their vivid sound offers sacred assurance that holiness is boundless, available everywhere at any time, even on an ordinary day like today.

2 Comments From Other Members
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9/25/2008 Michele Moore from New Port Richey FL wrote:
Your blogs are like a sweet respite in the day. They coax my imagination into a well-worn chair, the most comfortable kind, and offer me a steaming cup of tea. They whisper, "Take a few moments to close your eyes, rest your mind, breathe, and remember that life can be simple, uncomplicated, and lovely." Your "Ordinary Life" blogs refresh me. Thank you, Jan.
9/25/2008 Susan Terbay from Dayton OH wrote:
As I walk onto the campus of this Catholic University every morning - the bells of our chapel next to my building are tolling at 8am. I hear them every hour and like you Jan - they bring me solace. Something about bells tolling the hours and then the joyful sounds they bring at a wedding and the somber sounds they have for a funeral. Thank you again for the reminder of the ordinary that touch each of us.

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