Ringing in Our Hearts

On a recent bell-ringing trip to England, a group of us had the privilege of seeing the outside of the famous White Chapel Bell Foundry. The building was closed, but we wanted to see where our church bells were cast. One could almost touch the history surrounding this place! The Foundry was established in 1570. In 1752, the original casting of our Liberty Bell took place there. In 1858, Big Ben made its debut! It is a 13 1/2 ton bell that rings every hour at the Palace of Westminster. In 1976, a Bicentennial Bell was commissioned by the British Government, cast, and presented as a gift to the United States. After the 9/11/2001 terrorist attack, the City of London gave a bell to the City of New York. That bell resides at Trinity Church on Wall Street.

While reading from “Thoughts in Solitude” by Thomas Merton this morning, I was amazed to read a passage about bells in a chapter entitled, “Aspects of the Spiritual Life.”

The chapter begins:

“Bells are meant to remind us that God alone is good, that we belong to Him, that we are not living for this world. They break in upon our cares to remind us that all things pass away and that our preoccupations are not important. They speak to us of our freedom, which responsibilities and transient cares make us forget. They are the voice of our alliance with the God of Heaven. They tell us that we are His true temple. They call us to peace with Him within ourselves.”


The Gospel story of Mary and Martha is read at the end of the blessing of a church bell. The bells say, “Business does not matter. Rest in God and rejoice, for this world is only the figure and the promise of a world to come, and only those who are detached from transient things can possess the substance of eternal hope.” The bells say, “We have spoken for centuries from the towers of great churches. We have spoken to the Saints your Fathers, in their land. We called them, as we call you, to sanctity.”

The reading continues on a bit but ends with this: “Our song is perfect as the Father in Heaven is perfect, and we pour our charity out upon all.”

Wow! I kept re-reading this message! It is not what I was expecting to read during my quiet time! There is a lot to think about!

This reminds me of being told that bells have lives of their own. They are named. They have history, and they have a call just like us.



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