September 25

For Whom Does the Bell Toll?

It was Sunday. A day of rest.

I was standing on the sidewalk in front of the yellow brick ranch with the mismatched shutters. We were talking about the neighborhood and all the work that needs to be done. I was raving about the private backyard and raised garden beds.

Even while working, we can find that place of peace. It seems to me that when we are asking and seeking and searching for God, he always finds a way to make his presence known.

There was a giant dumpster in the driveway blocking the garage. Her dad was talking about the almost dead tree that sat too close to the house and needed to come down. And then I heard it. I don’t know of any sound more beautiful than Sunday morning church bells.

I thought of the dumpster, the dead tree and suddenly remembered I was in a hurry to get to back to Boerne for the 10:00 am service at my own church. I promised myself not to outpace the rhythm of the day and as I was driving by the large Catholic cathedral, I knew I needed to slow down. I needed to breathe. I needed to allow room for more rest and less running.

Here.

Here?

Yes.

I parked the car, took a quick glance in the rearview mirror, adjusted my olive green peace cap and considered my outfit. Were hats allowed? There was no way I was taking off my hat to display my super flat hair. Carefully and somewhat fancifully I walked up the elegant concrete stairs while holding onto the rail.

My little girl self-spent a lot of time with locked arms, playing and prancing on the wide church steps of Sacred Heart singing the Laverne and Shirley, Schlemiel and Schlimazel thing.

I looked for an empty seat towards the back and scooted into an oak pew. Guitar players and mandolin players and a large choir of people were singing. The tiny notes filled the ceiling as I looked around, taking it all in. The giant wood beams, the stained glass that let in just the right amount of sunlight.

And then father began.

In Spanish.

I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed before. So many men in button-down plaid shirts and women with gorgeous and flowy, long, brown hair. Just last week I broke my 78-day streak of days of lessons, but I am determined to be bi-lingual. DuoLingo says I’m a whopping 9% fluent now.

Every once in a while I could understand a phrase and clearly heard words like Christ, brothers, casa, and unity.

Quickly I was able to pick up, “and also with you.”

I thought again of the dumpster, the dead tree and the sound of the church bells ringing. I thought about how we carry each other, locked arms, hand in hand up and down the big stairs of our day and our lives and the stares because of our possibly inappropriate attire.

Some things are universal.

A handshake, a hug, and a hallelujah chorus translate in pretty much any language.