Menu of Meditations

Ringing Our Spiritual Bells

December! Christmas is coming! What are some of the things that mark the Christmas season? Decorations, lights, gifts, music. And bells. Tower bells, sleigh bells, handbells, "silver bells," Salvation Army kettle bells, tiny tinkling tree bells.

During my four years in college, I spent a lot of time on campus making music - piano, organ and vocal recitals, band, glee club, a cappella choir, fraternity song fests, writing and conducting music for student productions, and so on. But perhaps the most exciting musical experience came when I was appointed chief carillonneur during my senior year.

The carillon was located in the chapel tower. It was the '50s, still the pre-electronic era which meant that each bell was physically attached to a long wooden handle or key. The key had to be grasped and vigorously depressed at least a foot and a half to make the bell sound. The lower bells also had a foot pedal attached to their respective key which meant that you could play three bells at once, one with each hand and a third with your left foot. Playing a half hour concert on this antique key frame was a serious athletic workout, and there were half a dozen scheduled concerts each week.

One of the drawbacks to playing a carillon back then was that it was impossible to practice in private. While you rehearsed, the entire town was listening. Every mistake was made in thousand-decibel tones, every flub immediately assaulted the ears of thousands of music critics. There was no way to cover up your errors. You did your best, and let people think what they might. It takes some degree of courage [some might even say foolhardiness] to put your ego on the line like that.

There are over a hundred stories on our site, amazing accounts of personal spiritual experiences submitted by our visitors. Many contributors confess that they have never told these stories to anyone before. They have been afraid that they would be rebuffed, or accused of lying or being crazy. It takes courage for them to put their egos on the line like this. But they are the prophets of a new age.

Everyone has a story of some sort. Those who claim they don't simply haven't been paying attention. The new age will come to fulfillment when the scales tip from disbelief to general acceptance. That will happen only when a majority of the people own their own spiritual experiences, and recognize that the truth about God is far beyond religion - that the spiritual world is an intimate part of our daily life.

In this Christmas season, we can all become bell ringers, heralds of a new age, spiritual gift givers. Our personal experiences can be tiny Christmas packages, wrapped in love and divine insight. We have gifts of truth to share with a world desperate for a new kind of music.

So, overcome your self-consciousness about practicing in public. Ring your bell! Tell your story! Don't worry what people think. They will be secretly in awe of you, and will begin to look at their own lives from a different perspective.

Posted 12-01-04

Copyright: John W. Sloat 2004