My mind is a random jumble of images and ideas- here’s one to enjoy. Maybe.
The “Bell Choir” could easily be described as the class clowns of our congregation. We were a group of fun loving people, who laughed more than we practiced, but practice was what we needed. This group of amateur musicians ranged from elementary aged children to their own grandparents. Mandy, Mrs. Brundy to her students, was our choir director. All that meant was she was able to read sheet music better than the rest of us.
She tried to get us all to focus on the matter at hand, or in hand if you get my drift. But we were more focused on who brought what snack for that night’s session. God love her. She tried. The youngest of our musical ensemble were my daughters, Ladybug and Booga. They were eleven and seven years old when they started playing with the group. They played the smallest of the bells and had the most important parts, or so I told them. I took joy in seeing them be active members of this family. Pastor Gary had even become a member. He could not carry a tune if you gave him a bag to put it in, but he was always more than willing to find ways to share his love of the Lord and maybe test out a few of the snacks. If that meant ringing a bell, then that was what he would do.
We would gather every Wednesday evening in the church hall. It was a sparsely decorated area that could be gracefully transformed into a formal dining room for a member’s wedding reception or a sock hop for the children’s group meeting that were held each month. Everyone’s favorite day was the last Sunday of each month because it was our potluck luncheon. Those who normally would not have been in attendance always seemed to find a way to be in a pew on that day. No matter what adorned the walls or was wrapped around the windows, the hall was warm and inviting and made you want to sit and stay a while. The part of the hall that we all would swarm to was the kitchen. It had the setup of two full kitchens. For those who love to cook, as I do, it was an absolute dream come true. There was a storage/pantry room at the back of the hall that held the tables and chairs along with the food for the congregation and those who were in need. The music supply closet was located next to that, which contained our bell chest, sheet music folders, and the children’s musical instruments. So, that was our excuse for ending up gathered in the kitchen at the beginning of each practice. We could not get to the bells without passing through the welcoming embrace of the kitchen, and who can pass through there without making a pot of coffee or laying out some delicious snacks?
It truly did bring a smile to your face to see all of us in our fine navy and silver robes, pristine white gloves, and polished bells. It may have even given a feeling of hope that we might know what we were doing. As it turned out, we did. We did practice and we would also visit. The point is that we could do both. We played the bells to share the music of our faith and to show how much we cared about each other and our church family. These bronze noise makers brought joy to the hearts of those who played them and to those who heard them sing.
The reality is that there are dozens of these groups in every town, in every state, spanning each faith across the nation. The differences are only apparent in the unique personalities of its members. There will always be a leader, a “teacher”, the rhythmically challenged, a zealot and the tone deaf. Being someone who moved away from my hometown many years ago, this place and these people gave me peace. It was a place of warmth, friendship, the common bond of faith, and the joy of the bells.
Until next time…
Find joy. Be joy. Enjoy.