Chimes, chimes soothe the times | Faithful Living

I am drawn to chimes. I recall hearing them during my childhood and they represent positive experiences for me.

As a child growing up in an urban setting in California, I recall hearing very routine city sounds—like the sirens of emergency vehicles or neighbors pulling into their driveways. When it was still legal to break the sound barrier over city centers, I’d occasionally hear an explosive sonic boom as pilots flew overhead faster than the speed of sound, on their way to Edward’s Air Force Base in the California desert. Nightly sounds included the mournful cry of a distant train traveling along the Oxnard plain or the noise of large fans stirring the air to prevent the citrus and avocados from freezing.

But my favorite sounds were the hourly chimes of a church clock located one street over from my family’s home. They were a sweet reminder that a church, and surely God’s spirit, was present at all times during the night.

I began hearing chimes the fall my dad grew critically ill. I didn’t dare mention it at first. That’s because I am the spiritual one and I’m occasionally entertaining to some. But after days of praying that God would draw near to us and make His presence known so we could be comforted as we faced Dad’s impending death, I could not help myself.

“Did anyone just hear that?” I quietly asked one morning as we hurriedly grabbed a cup of coffee before heading to the hospital to spend the day with Dad. “I keep hearing chimes. God’s near, you know.”

I boldly put it out there, but I spoke the words with trepidation. It’s one thing to write about God and quite another to speak of Him at such a stressful moment -- everyone reacting in various ways to private worries and utter sorrows.

While nobody but me heard the chimes, they continued to ring, sweetly and with no warning. I heard them in the hospital hallway as a Hospice chaplain talked to me, asking if she could bring any spiritual comfort to us. I heard them the day I sat beside Dad, who hovered between this world and the next.

The afternoon family members and friends gathered to celebrate Dad’s life was the last time I heard those sweet chimes. As I stood in the fellowship hall of Dad’s church to watch people eat and reminisce about their experiences with him, I heard the chimes for the briefest of moments. It was glorious to hear God’s presence.

As we decorate our house this year for Christmas, I set out our angel chimes and remember God’s precious and short-time gift. These particular brass chimes work on a simple principle: lighted candles create a warm updraft of air, which moves an impeller carrying small clappers. As the impeller rotates, the clappers ring a set of chimes. The blend of light, gentle motion and sweet sound is best experienced for me in a darkened room, illuminated by Christmas tree lights.

It’s the sweet sound of Christmas and love.


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