Here’s Gail …
“In the coat closet/belfry/storage room off the narthex, at the busy corner of North Avenue and West Peachtree, are the unsung heroes of our calls to worship. The bell ropes, battered but faithful (as are so many of us), hang there limply until called to life by energetic ringing of the bell or the somber tolling of the tolling hammer. Without the ropes there is no ringing. And without the tugs, what good are the ropes?
As a verger and an usher, I pull on these ropes a lot and take them quite seriously. Initially it is a rather intimidating duty. I am always conscious of their importance in our worship life, so what if I do it wrong? And I have done it wrong, and probably no one (except, no doubt, Bruce Garner) notices. Worship—corporate or personal—happens no matter our failures.
I will never forget All Saints’ Sunday, 2009, the year after my mother died. The bell rang, and I burst into tears. We had had no memorial service for her, and I knew that it was ringing to me, for her.
If you are a small child who has been asked to pull on the bell rope before a service, you know that if you don’t let go in time, your feet may leave the floor. And those of us who ring the bell frequently wait for the “ghost” rings that happen a few moments after the peals have stopped. A sacred and mysterious duty indeed.”
Gail Rogers retired nine years ago as Director of the Cobb County Public Library and has spent that time making a thorough study of ways to enjoy retirement. Traveling is a big part of this. In her quieter moments, she takes classes in centuries-old traditional Japanese silk embroidery. And reads, of course
Thank you Gail for pointing us toward the gifts of the bells and for inviting us toward active, tugging faith. Here’s a piece of a poem by Adam Zagajewsk that reminds me, in these troubled times, of the Holy Spirit in their ringing.
We’ll take refuge in bells, in the swinging bells,
in the peal, the air, the heart of ringing.
We’ll take refuge in bells and we’ll float
over the earth in their heavy casings.