A few weeks ago, Steven and I went hiking. We hiked through the Hot Springs National Park . The day of our hike, we woke up at the Spring Street Inn, enjoyed a delicious breakfast (one of those meals you can truly eat ALL of it because you know every calorie would be burned off…joy!), stepped across the street from the B&B, and began our hike. We just walked.
After a steep 2 mile climb at the beginning of our 16 mile hike, I needed to take a break. I just sat on the ground. When you are hiking it is amazing what feels good and comfortable…the ground. (I made a mental note to myself to tell my trainer that we needed to work on conditioning my body to do more than a 30 minute workout.) While we were catching our breath and laughing at what we were doing, we heard a familiar noise…church bells. They chimed over the town and through the trees with the breeze. The sound of the bells brought a sense of calmness to us while we rested early in the morning. It was just a moment that seemed to give purpose and peace to the day. God was with us.
Historically, church bells have been used to gather worshipers together for a church service. One small village I visited during college in Costa Rica still used their church bells for this purpose. When the pastor was in town, the bells rang to let the people know to come to the service. Services were not always on Sundays. When I was a chaplain in a hospital, bells chimed twice a day through the halls. Their purpose was to encourage the hospital staff to pause and offer prayer for those in their care.
On our hiking day, the church bells calmed my soul. They reminded me that I was not alone. They gave me a chance to give thanks for a day to explore God’s natural sanctuary. They called me back from my distractions into what is truly important…time with God and my husband. They reminded me that 3 people were hiking that day even though we could only see each other.
Since then, I still hear the bells. They are not as loud at home, but they are still there. When I start my day on the wrong side of the bed, God and I meet again when I think of those bells. Then my day gets a lot better.
I wonder what you use each day to connect your agenda for the day with God’s presence? Prayer, service, scripture, a cup of coffee? What are your church bells? They can be so subtle and quiet that they are hard to hear when we are busy or in a hurry. But I guess being busy and in a hurry is not what God wants us to be doing anyways.
When we started hiking again (up another incline…ugh), I was still struck by how the church bells connected to my soul. I shared it with Steven. And then I said, “Hey, those church bells…that’s our song! We are the Bells!!” We are on this journey together. Glad you are with us too!