The sound of church bells chiming the noon hour caught me by surprise as I drove down the rural road. I hadn’t heard church bells in years. As I stopped the car and listened, a wave of nostalgic memories made me smile.
Closing my eyes, I remembered sunny summer mornings in my childhood. My grandparents lived next door to the little country church they attended, and my mother and I lived with them. On Sunday mornings, Grandpa and I rose early and walked to the church to unlock the doors.
Then came the part I remember so clearly. “C’mon, Sugarfoot, it’s time to ring the bell.” Grandpa would hoist me on his shoulders and I’d grab the thick rope hanging from the church bell. “Pull it hard,” he’d say, and then he would smile as the clanging sound echoed throughout the community.
Grandpa has been in heaven for many years now. He was a big influence in my life and he left behind wonderful memories of a loving grandpa. Even more importantly, he left behind an example of what a Christian should be.
How sweet to hear church bells once again. I wiped tears from my cheeks as I drove down the road that day. I miss that precious man—and just as much—I miss the sound of Grandpa’s church bell ringing throughout the neighborhood. That silenced bell is a reminder that Grandpa isn’t all that’s gone—his values are also slipping away.
As a child, I remember families sitting on the porch swing in the evenings while they talked. Now we’re usually too busy. I remember when families took for granted that they would attend church every Sunday. Now many children are growing up without ever attending Sunday school or church. I remember when most homes had a mom and a dad, and when children could pray at school. How times have changed.
I don’t want my grandpa’s values to be just memories. As I look ahead to planting spiritual roots in my own grandchildren, I’m grateful there are others like me who are determined to keep Grandpa’s values alive for future generations.
And someday when I get to heaven, I hope to tell my grandpa that his church bell kept ringing in my heart.
PS – I wrote this for a magazine article assignment awhile back. Something happened this week that made me think of this story about Grandpa’s church bell.
My youngest son, Jason, is the children and youth pastor at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church. Jason posted a photo on Facebook of my 18-month-old granddaughter. The caption with the picture read, “Ava doing her first job at Sunday school this morning—ringing the Sunday school bell.”
The picture brought tears to my eyes as I thought about how much Grandpa Haynes would have loved to see that his great-great-granddaughter is carrying on the tradition of ringing the church bell. I know it touched this grandma’s heart. Sweet baby girl, keep ringing that bell. Carry those values on to another generation. I hope that church bell keeps ringing in your heart…just like it did in mine.