I Heard the Church Bells Toll


I hear the church bells toll just down the street. The tolling causes an ache and melancholy rings from my soul. The lonely sound marks the hour and I feel a pull, the church, or maybe it is God, calling to me. Where are you, where have you been, I miss you. The feelings and memories of the little girl inside begin to stir. As a member of a huge Catholic family, I was made to go to church very regularly.

Everyone in our small town was Catholic. Our school was a public one but even it was owned by the church.  We had nuns to teach us in their long dark garbs and funny headpieces that reminded me of the mouth piece of a whistle. They took us to church every morning and taught our religion classes too.  Each day started at school with the Pledge of Allegiance and was followed with the Lord’s Prayer.

We spent our time in church trying to pay attention. Somehow our minds would wander.  One of us would begin playing with our hands daring the next to twist one finger across the other and stack all five if possible. Soon giggles and whisper would be heard and then quickly silenced with a swat on the shoulder and a very stern look from whichever nun was in charge of us that day.  There are really only so many mind games and finger games and distractions a child can invent when made to sit unnaturally still and quiet for so much of their lives. Yet, the giggles and the games rush back echoingly clear when those church bells ring.

Some of the priests were so ancient and so boring. Some we couldn’t follow due to the monotone credence of their voice. Yet, there were a few, just a few, who had a twinkle in their eye and a gift of engaging even us small children. These few would come down from behind the alter or podium, walk up and down the aisle, calling on us by name,  gently talking to us like we were real people. Kids sat up straighter, craned their necks and ears to see and listen. We would actually pay attention and want to participate. Yes, I recall those gentle priests with fondness when I hear those old church bells.

Oh and those sweet, slow Sundays, our whole family would go to church together. Dad would go sit in the car and patiently wait until each kid eventually tumbled from the house. Quietly he would remain until mom appeared to take her place beside him. Away we would go in that old station wagon tucked so full with all his love.  I remember the feelings that ran through me as we took up two whole pews in that old church. The older kids, some sullenly, some motherly, some still trying to wake up, filled the spaces of those benches. Ahh, but they never knew they also filled the corners of a little girl’s soul. I felt so safe and secure and yet a part of something huger then my little mind could even begin to imagine. My dad would sing bass and my mom would harmonize right there with him and I thought I heard angels chiming in. I still feel these things whenever I hear those beautiful church bells ring.

Safe and secure and loved and a sense of always knowing what was expected of me. My family and my church laid the map of my life. I may have strayed and taken paths not approved of but my love of both of them has always managed to pull me back. I love God and I love the Catholic faith even if I rarely attend anymore. God, my family and my church were good to me through my childhood. When those church bells ring I remember I have been blessed.

My childhood church: http://www.stfrancischurch.com/newsite/wordpress/?page_id=68

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Andrew Rauch
    Jul 29, 2012 @ 09:13:44

    Love Love Love it!!!!!

    Reply

  2. Trackback: Beware of the man whose God is in the skies « Daniel Agnew

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