Friday, April 17, 2009

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Today we rang for a funeral. Aside from service ringing, this is the first event ringing I have been involved in. I did not toll for the deceased, Bill did, but I ticked off each slow stroke on the whiteboard in the ringing room, helping him keep correct count. It was somber and strange. It was moving. It was every bit what I had expected it would be. Until after, when 8 of us took hold and proceeded to ring a very joyful sounding 20 minutes or so of Grandsire, Bob Triples and assorted call changes. I didn't expect that.

But it makes a certain sense. Toll the years; the deceased has earned that solemn salute. Then, celebrate the life lived. Today, I really feel proud to be a bell ringer.

Just last Sunday we rang a resurrection. Early in the morning, just before dawn with the lights off in the tower we rang the first joyful tones we had rung since before Lent started. It was energizing to be a part of it, and it really brought home to me how important we ringers are. So often as we work on our methods it is almost like we are only in this for ourselves. But as we rang the Easter services in and out I could really tell how the integration of bells with the liturgy really created a special experience for the congregation.

After the funeral ringing we had a bit of practice. Two lovely couples have come to visit from Great Britain, and we will be ringing with them all day tomorrow as well. I am tenoring acceptably on 8 bells, which is a big jump for me. I have previously rung on 5, 6 and not too well on 7, so I wasn't even sure I could count to eight, but apparently it is not out of the question for me. Which is kind of amazing.

I still benefit from Sheila's coaching. Sheila and Mike came over from GB to visit us about a month or so ago, delightful people who, amongst other things, taught me the correct way to pronounce Chiddingly. I was fortunate to make the practice when they were in visiting, and Sheila will always be the angel on my shoulder exhorting me to "nice, long strokes" whenever I start to lose it. She was definitely there this evening helping me get to eight.

And if you want to know, it is "Chidding-lye"

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