Wednesday, October 29, 2008

For Whom the Bell Tolls

There are two churches within walking distance of our house. One of them is a beautiful white structure. It’s buildings sprawl over most of the block. But it is the main building that impresses the passerby. It is large and commanding with white pillars holding the extended roof over the entrance porch. The roof is large and sweeping and at the very center it is peaked just as you would imagine a church roof should be.

It has a series of steps that lead to a set of double doors. On any given Sunday you can see dozens of people standing on the steps or near the pillars while the double doors stand open and ready to receive.

It belongs in a country setting. It should be nestled among rolling hills and large billowing trees. Instead it has a large paved area for parking on one side of it and a very busy city street in front of it.

The other church is a large Catholic Church. It also consumes the majority of its block. It is different because it sits on one corner of a six street intersection. It is built on a V shaped piece of land. It also is large and sprawling. It has a majesty of it’s own. It has a towering roof that contains a bell tower. When the light is right it appears that the bell tower is touching God’s hand. It is that high! or appears to be. The steps to enter the front of the church almost extend to the curb at the point of the V. It looks as if it would be very difficult to get to the large double doors of the entrance until you look down one side of the V and see a large parking lot. The walkway from the parking lot has been planted with lovely trees and shrubbery. It makes a nice, serene walk from the car to the sanctuary.

Both of these churches fill me with a sense of peace when I look at them.

BUT the Catholic Church ....

has a bell in their tower!

The bells instantly bring a haunting memory of laying in a hospital bed fighting pain. The pain had a life of it’s own. It throbbed and swirled. It consumed me. It became me. I would lay awake in the middle of the night thinking, “If I can make it through tonight, tomorrow the pain will be less” and from the dark outside there would suddenly be the sound of church bells. Every hour on the hour the church bells would ring. Every operation that I had as a child. That sound that rang through the night became a melody of pain and loneliness that filled me with dread. The sound of it striking the hour! Every strike a living presence of pain! The sound of those church bells became a sound of terror.

Isn?t it funny how something from your childhood can haunt you forever. I love looking at the beautiful church. That gives me peace. I can?t bear to listen to it?s lovely bells. That gives me memories.

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