Merrily Ring

Last week Justin met up with a few of his closest friends for a mentoring retreat with the ever-engaging, epically passionate Jim McGuiggan. I was jealous.

And lonely. 

He left for five days which, I know, is not that terrible. I should suck it up. People’s husbands go to war, Gerhardt; get over it. Noted.

Still, I missed him. And I felt somewhat less stable without him. He is, after all, my other half. Apart from him I stand on one foot. 

While he was away I read the last book of The Hunger Games trilogy. And I read a frustratingly challenging book on Biblical interpretation. And I started a most humbling and emotionally taxing conversation with a good, good friend.

In other words, by the 24 hours away mark, I was already a certifiable mess. 

Getting dressed the morning of day 2, I stumbled upon a small bell from Round Rock’s Christmas service. We’d passed these bells out to all our members as we encouraged them to meditate on their greatest joys, the joys only possible in Christ. We had them ring the bells together in celebration.

I picked up my bell, rang my thumb along the curve and thought about my joys. Named them. Held them. Thanked God for them.

Someone had tied ribbon through a hole at the top of the bell. I untied the ribbon, unclasped the long chain already hanging around my neck and threaded the chain through the hole in the bell. 

I wore the bell for the next four days. As life jostled me, I rang, my little bell tinkling with my every move. 

I held the bell in my hand at the symphony so as not to mar the music, but I kept it on at Chuck-E-Cheese where it sounded loudest as I ran from ride to game, chasing eager kids. I let it ring as I pushed the girls on the swings and fed the ducks peanut butter and jelly crackers. I let it ring as I paced my living room, looking for just the right way to explain something difficult to explain. 

Do you know how hard it is to be sad to the soundtrack of one small, simple bell?

When every step sounds like joy, you can’t help but remember and embrace and live joy. 

I’ve been bell-free for two days now, but I still hear it when I need to. I hear it right now, sitting on my tiny porch as the sun sets, contemplating mysteries I’ve yet to plumb. 

While preparing for the Christmas service last year, the one with the bells (We called it Merrily Ring), we interviewed kids for an intro video, asking them questions like “When do we ring a bell?” Not a lot of kids knew the answer. Not a lot of them had ever heard a bell outside of music class. But one kid, probably five, said something like this: “We ring a bell when something’s happened, something good.” 

We ring a bell when something good’s happened—that’s why I think my endlessly ringing bell was so right, true. Because something good is happening. Now. And now. And now…