There will be no pictures today. Feelings, beliefs and souls can not be captured and shown by way of photography.
The bells began to ring out wildly. A hush fell over the gathering of friends and family standing outside of the church. One could feel the weight of the deep, resonant sound of the great bells. A weight that we already felt in our hearts and now was sounding out for all the world to hear. A peel into the bright clear day of sorrow, of remembering, and of saying goodbye. We fell into place and entered into the church surrounded by the embracing sound of the bells.
These bells had sounded out just like this the day before. I had just gone into the yard to hang the laundry when the great clanging began, washing over me on my little ridge. One can tell these are not bells that are ringing the hour. There is a wild insistence to the sound carrying over the village. An announcement that we have lost a neighbor, a friend, an ancient soul. They toll on and on and on. I knew that these bells tolled for a friend, a special friend to all of the village. Those bells brought me to a stand still, a gasp as I could physically feel the grief welling up, tears brimming in my eyes. The bells created a lovely place and time to sit with this sad feeling. The sound of the bells washing over and up, up into the endless blue sky. It was a private space and moment where I could reflect in my own way the shared experiences with this friend. I also realized that I was in communion with the entire village. I wanted the bells to go on and on and to get crazier and crazier releasing all the emotion that was built up inside me.
Here in the church we were all gathered under the great sound. The priest's voice finding the rhythm of the bells, speaking sing song, saying something that I could not quite catch. Then he said, “Our friend will be at the gates of heaven” - and the bells stopped. It took my breath away. Suddenly there was an image that was so concrete. I had not realized how the bells would transport my friend to a place that I have heard of, talked about, debated, and that was now suddenly a ‘place’ completely clear and real. A place that rested just on the edge of where the sound could carry. Carrying along a soul with it.
Then the bells started up again and we knew it was time to move on, let our friend go, envision him with the great wildness of the bells. He’s free; free.
And now again our village bells carry on their daily duty of giving rhythm to our lives. They are wonderful bells and wether heard in grief or joy they are a part of life here in France. Except now I envision myself hanging from the bell-pull expressing my emotions with the swinging and clanging of the bells radiating out to the great beyond.