‘All Things Bright And Beautiful’

I heard the church bells this morning, ringing like they do each Sunday.

There’s a group of dedicated folks who show up every Sunday and ring the bells for at least a quarter of an hour. They ring steadily, one after the other occasionally overlapping, tolling in a pattern of order that never seems to change.

At least three of the bell ringers live down the road from us and I know most of them never stay for the church services that follow. Asking why doesn’t seem appropriate even though I’d love to know why they ring the bells so consistently each week and then go home. I wonder if they’ve ever lingered to listen or maybe taken a seat on a pew.

In general, churches in England seem to barely have enough parishioners left to keep the lights on and all these lovely little village churches stand mostly empty during the week and not much better on Sundays. I’ve been to services in our village church a few times and I have to admit I don’t feel a big desire to hurry back.

I prefer to worship in another way.

Cornwall 2013 - Elizabeth Harper

Cornwall 2013 -Elizabeth Harper

Elizabeth Harper

Birdbox Cornwall - Elizabeth Harper

12 thoughts on “‘All Things Bright And Beautiful’

  1. That’s very English of you not to ask…it strikes me as very odd to show up to beckon others to worship but not stick around. Our church was filled to bursting today, which was pleasant.

    But I agree, being in nature is a great way to feel connected spiritually.

    • I think it may only be one of the six or eight bell ringers who actually stay for the service. I’m going to have to do a bit more research. It was a surprise to me to see how few attend church here, Caitlin. Maybe if we had dinner on the grounds every other Sunday like in the church I used to go to when I was a teenager, we’d might rebuild the membership.

  2. Glad to see your comment section is back. I can understand bell-ringing as a musical skill and a physical work-out, followed by a pint at the pub. Bells were a system of communication and warning as much as anything else.

  3. Your title reminds me of a hymn we sang each Easter at a sunrise service held atop our steeple at St. James church in Wilminton, North Carolina (USA). Those are some wonderful memories, so thanks!

    Looks like you had a nice day out as well! 🙂

  4. Lovely photos! And yes, Europeans are very secular. Same thing here in Scandinavia. Or actually, I sometimes think people here never really abandoned the panteistic nature spirituality that preceded even the so called Norse paganism, that came in from Germany. Organized religion was always something brought on by kings, for political reasons, trade and so on. When we got freedom of religion, it was interpreted as freedom from religion. Most Swedes will say they feel divinity in nature.

  5. I agree with Viktoria. I always find it amusing that Christian churchgoers refer to the ‘true meaning’ of Christmas (Midwinter) and Easter (the arrival of Spring) as though they have a monopoly.Surviving the last Ice Age is the real clue to celebration and feasting at those crucial times. I agree too that organised religion has mostly to do with power and control and I include religions other than Christianity in that. I for one am exceedingly glad that Europe (including Britain – and increasingly, Ireland) is now largely secular.

  6. It appears to me that you the personification for the phrase “Ask not of whom tolls the bells, “..(okay, I know that’s not what John Donne (1572-1631) actually said in Meditation 17., but it’s close enough! When I lived in the Bahamas as a young boy, I served as an altar boy six nights a week. The tolling of the bells to me meant I had 30 minutes to get to church, put on my red and white cassock, and prepare for mass. I’d almost always run to church, and out of breath, light the candles around the church and altar; run back into the rectory to help the priest get dressed. I’d linger just a bit as he went ahead into the church, then I’d steal a sip of the wine I had to prepare for mass. It was my sinful little ritual every night. You had no trouble getting me to church, bells or no bells!

  7. Aha – you’ve obviously not been to the right sort of church yet! The media loves to portray the church as a dying entity, but there is a very real and alive body of Christ in the UK that is out there doing the stuff that Jesus said to.
    I still love to connect with God through nature though, like you I find it healing, and a gift from God who after all is the creator! Keep up the lovely blogs and pictures…

  8. It took a year and a half of looking here, but I love going to my church. That said, many of my most profound encounters with God have been outdoors. I’d find it easy to connect with him where you are!

  9. I enjoy seeing and thanking God for the beautiful things he has designed for us. I am not a big fan of most organized religion but will go back to a church that uplifts me with hymns. I thank God for every rain that we need and every flower I enjoy, the mornings that are sunny and the snow fall in it’s beauty.

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