The Bells Are Ringing

My bathroom window was open as I was putting on make-up. The sounds of traffic and dogs barking drifted through the window, along with the faint sounds of church bells ringing the hour. The bells are a few blocks away, at the church where I teach preschool. If I didn’t know that the bells ring every hour, I might not have noticed their sound. I love those church bells; they remind me of the bells that rang across the street when I was little. I lived in a red brick parsonage with my family; on a street paved with red bricks, by the red brick church with a tall, tall steeple.

Our grade school was just down the street. In the middle of the morning, while we were at class, we would occasionally hear the bells ring out…but at the wrong time.

Imagery of a bell tolling is used as a symbol of death. And that’s exactly why those bells were ringing. A funeral was taking place at the church. As kids, we knew what the bell ringing meant. Listening to the peal of the bells would cause us to pause in our school work, and then we would bend our heads down again to the task at hand. And so, life went on.

It is harder for life to go on after hearing those funeral bells as an adult. I have been thinking about my mother a lot these days. She’s been gone for almost two years. The month of October, with all the pink for breast cancer awareness, used to be easier to face together. Pink is good; pink reminds us that we still need to fight. But pink can also be a lonely color when I worry about the recurrence of cancer.

But yet, I have to laugh as I read that last sentence. In the children’s book, “Purplicious”, the main character moans, “I’m the only on in the whole wide world who likes pink. I am all alone. No one understands me,” when all her friends declare that pink is out and black is in.

By moaning that I am all alone in my breast cancer journey, I am like that pouting little girl in the book. I am not really alone. I am surrounded by love. And of course, I am forgetting that death has no hold on me–a lesson my mother taught me. She had no fear of breast cancer; no fear of death, as one of her favorite hymns proclaims:

Lord, let at last thine angels come, to Abr’hams bosom bear me home, that I may die unfearing;
And in its narrow chamber keep my body safe in peaceful sleep until thy reappearing.
And then from death awaken me that these mine eye with joy may see,
O Son of God, thy glorious face, My Savior and my fount of grace.
Lord Jesus Christ, My prayer attend, my prayer attend, and I will praise thee without end!

What a joyful sound, the ringing of the bells!

The words above are from the hymn “Lord, Thee I Love with All My Heart.”

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3 Replies to “The Bells Are Ringing”

  1. My mom is a survivor, and like your mom, she has no fear of death, but I suspect that's largely due to to her profound faithfulness and security in knowing heaven awaits. I suspect though that when she gets her tests done each time, she still worries like you probably do.

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