Dear Bells, Chimes, and Carillon at the Lutheran Church Behind My House,
When you started playing during Christmastide, I was so pleasantly surprised. I thought it was just lovely to hear carols for all 12 days. My sweet husband and I binge watched all the Harry Potter movies, and ate entirely too many sweets, and all the while, you reminded us to celebrate Christmas, just a little longer. I’ll admit you were also a somewhat creepy under-sound track to the already bell-laden scores of the HP series.
Once you kept playing past Epiphany, I wondered if you’d gone totally bonkers, or if I had totally misunderstood some arcane counting difference between Episco-time and Lutheran-time, you know…like how Armenian Christmas is a week later…. Anyway, I realized you’d switched over from carols to some pretty standard hyms. I didn’t know if you’d started offering recitals, or just what. A couple of weeks ago, you started playing the Westminster Quarters, just like the grandfather clock from my grandmother’s house, in addition to the hourly hymn medley. And I can hear them clear as day from 8am to 8pm.
It drove me kind of crazy, at first. It felt like it was just one more noise I needed to get used to. It took months to get used to the geese and ducks over at your place. MONTHS. Then, there’s the crazy labyrinth of train tracks, so we get lots of whistles in our neighborhood at all hours, and traffic noise, and sirens. Like I said, it felt like one more noise I was going to have to learn to tune out.
But then, I started listening, kind of looking forward to the little recitals. I even had a dream where the bells played on the subway, telling me which train was which. I catch myself humming along to these old hymns–A Mighty Fortress is our God (can you get more Lutheran than that one?); The Navy Hymn; Amazing Grace ; Fairest Lord, Jesus; All Creatures of Our God and King…lots of them. It’s kind of nice.
See, the truth of the matter is that while right now, I love Jesus very, very much, I’m not super-crazy about actually going to church right now. I’ve been spending a lot of time trying to figure out why that is…how I can feel so connected to the stories and the liturgy and the understanding I’m building with Jesus every day in my work and life, but I just don’t feel at all connected to the act of going to church. After spending a big chunk of my adult life going to church as part of my job description, I’m having trouble with how to reframe that discipline. That probably makes me sound like a lazy whiner.
Your deep tones and bubbly high notes, the gentle mid-tones, and key changes have helped start to fill in the gaps of how I think I’m starting see worship, and how I am trying to blaze a trail back to some kind of connection to corporate worship. Just having some of my most favorite songs as the backing-track to these last few cold and dreary days have been such a lovely treat. I’m even learning not to mind not being able to really sleep in, any more. There are so many good things waiting to be done, and seen, and heard. You’ve gone from one more thing to get used to, to being a chorus I listen for, to ask me to reset and recenter myself for another hour of working, or writing, or simply being.