Tower Watch

by Faithful Friar

Three close friends and mentors in the art/science of English style change-ringing came to be with us for 3 days this month as they have most summers since our bells were installed 8 years ago. They might be compared to “founding guides” in our lengthy process of conversion from neophyte ringers into a true band capable of ringing methods together. Earlier years saw them taking any of us who could handle a bell rope safely and placing us one at a time in their midst to guide where practically each bell stroke should be placed. Through the years as we’ve continued our own practice, repetition of service ringing, many comings and goings, ups and downs, the summer camp teachers gradually led us to doing more and more on our own until, by nearly imperceptible increments and almost to our own surprise, this year we could field enough of us to ring half a dozen quarter peals and 2 full peals during their time with us, still needing their steady ringing and guidance, but having more of us than them for the first time. Looking back on this “founding” period, it’s often felt like an exercise in blind faith, perseverance, trust. I suppose it may have felt that way to our teachers as well, but they also understood from experience how such a worthy yet highly-complex endeavor (learning to live together in community for example!) a firm hand is needed and slow simple instructions to follow. They knew the resulting satisfaction of achieving goals in company with others of like mind and purpose…maturing together in an activity impossible to accomplish on one’s own, requiring both tenacity and patience, yet ultimately rewarding both doers and hearers.

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