Riding it Down
By Faithful Friar
The past few months have seen an exciting development in the bell-ringing band here at the Church of the Transfiguration bell tower at the Community of Jesus. For the first time since the bells were installed and we began ringing six years ago, a new “class” of bell-ringers signed up and began the process of learning the art and craft of English-style tower bell change-ringing. The “art” lies in the fact that this style allows for precision-timed ringing of tuned bells so they can be rung one after the other in ever-changing sequences (thus, “change ringing”). The “craft,” as one may imagine, lies in working with a hundreds- or thousands-pound object swinging freely on a large wheel back and forth through 360 degree turns, and attached to a very long rope which the ringer has to handle. He or she is surrounded by other ringers trying to do the same thing as they negotiate whatever pattern is being rung — a very practical lesson in commitment and community! It feels like “precision bull-riding” for quite a long time and takes lots of patience, endurance, and trust in your teachers. Again, perhaps a bit like living in a large community of people of varying ages, opinions, and abilities! But all the effort can really pay off if you “stay on the animal’s back” and learn to work with it — and with those around you. It is an especial joy and privilege to be the first generation of ringers here, and to already be passing on all we know to a new crop of ringers. As St. Benedict says, “We are, therefore…a school in the Lord’s service”!