March 2019

Hear the sledges with the bells - Silver bells!  What a world of merriment their melody foretells!  How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle, in the icy air of night! 


So begins the poem by Edgar Alan Poe entitled, it just so happens, The Bells.  For centuries bells have played a significant role in our lives.  They are a call to church of course, but they have long been used to identify the time or as a call to arms and even as a warning of danger.  To the uninitiated they may seem intrusive, but to those in the know they are also musical.  Bells have a kind of urgency you don’t find everywhere.  I suppose when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone and considered how to attract a recipients attention, the bell was an obvious choice.  Because somehow it draws you in, makes you sit up and pay attention, almost demands you act upon the ringing.  Having said that, it’s not always true.  I once visited a hotel where the telephone seemed to ring constantly without ever being answered and it drove me absolutely mad, in a hair pulling kind of way, which may explain my current predicament as a follicle challenged individual.


Be that as it may, I think bells and faith…not christianity or religion per se…have something in common.  For many people faith has a way of drawing their attention, like a clarion cry or the bells ringing from the steeples during the Great Fire of London, although one might suggest the reddish glow, searing heat and buildings collapsing in showers of sparks might have contributed towards residents paying some measure of attention.  Faith is not necessarily the same as christianity or religion.  They may of course entwine, or they may not.  But faith is quite simply the belief that something you believe in is true even when you have no empirical proof.  Faith, in whatever form that might take, often finds an outpouring in what we now like to think of as ‘Spirituality.’  Same thing, different approach.  Or is it?  Many people define themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious.’  Such sentiments represent a major strand of belief in western nations, creating a broad ‘church’ if you’ll pardon the expression, which ranges from pagans to devotees of healing crystals and various pit-stops in-between.  But for many millions more, it’s nothing more esoteric than the ‘feeling’ there must be something else beyond all this.


Such views stem, I think, from the view religion is out of touch with modern values.  Perhaps not without justification given the rise of fundamentalism and oppression of various groups, for instance women, among ‘the chosen.’  Yet spiritual aspects of human nature often ignore such trivia in favour of the awe and wonder of our relationship with the world.  Or the sense there’s more than to life than money, work, childcare and the daily grind.  There are, will always be, moments that simply transcend all that.  Such as a beautiful sunset or a moving piece of music.


Spirituality, faith, call it what you will, is a concept worth considering.  It relates to things not necessarily expressible in words.  It’s not an easy journey either. 


Wherever you may sit in this matter, be that religious, spiritual or simply questioning, I pray you find the answers that you seek, each and every day.

Rev Paul