Friday, September 22, 2017

Tinkle and Clang

To celebrate Christmas with you, I am reprising a story that I wrote several years ago. The following, Tinkle and Clang, resonates for all of us simply because we live in a world where war is an ever present reality, and where peace seems to be as elusive to grab hold of as smoke. The truth is, true peace will always be more spiritual than physical until the Lord makes a second visit to the planet.   In the meantime….

A flurry of discordant sounds announced the arrival of several sections of the bell choir.

“Move it, you three. You’re late and we haven’t got much time,” chimed the Bell Master from his place on the bottom rung of the carillon.

“Nag, nag, nag,” whispered the D flat to his buddy, C, as they climbed into their places on the top level. “What’s the hurry, anyway? Clang’s got his clapper in a knot for sure this morning.”

“Morning? It’s still dark outside,” protested the F major, breathlessly hauling himself up behind the others.

The smaller bells finally got themselves into place, just as Clang struck the note that indicated readiness and silence in the ranks. He looked around, carefully checking to make sure no one was missing. Worse than a faulty note was no note at all.

“Where’s Tinkle?” he boomed from his assigned spot.

Tinkle was the littlest bell of all. Her spot was high up at the top of the carillon.

Like an evil wind brushing through the tower, the rustle of the bells created dissonance as everyone looked around, hunting for Tinkle.

“I’m here sir. Just polishing, Bell Master.” Her clear, high sound rang out as Tinkle took her place at the apex of the musical arrangement.

“That girl takes herself too seriously. ‘Just polishing, Bell Master.’ As if fingerprints made any difference to anyone,” mimicked the D flat.

“You have something to share with us?” came Clang’s voice from down below.

Everyone froze. More than once Clang had said out loud that he wished they never had to have contact with their human counterparts—the evil always rubbed off a bit, like fingerprints on the burnished surface of a bell.

“Uhmmmmm, no sir. I was just, well, wondering what all the rush was about,” stuttered the offender. “It’s not even daylight yet.”

“Well, if—and I know keeping time for you doesn’t usually include knowing what day it is—you had been paying attention during rehearsals, you would have remembered that dawn today is the biggest moment of our year. Today we bring hope to the world.”

From somewhere in the middle of the bevy of bells came the dulcet tones of one of the G’s. “But, boss, do you really think anyone listens to us? It’s nasty out there. Everyone knows what happened to poor Liberty. Those humans are a mean lot and we don’t seem to be making much of an impact.”

There were a couple of chuckles from the group at G’s unintentional play on notes. The subdued merriment stopped as Clang’s clapper sounded for silence.

“I’ll admit that I sometimes have my doubts as to whether anyone gets our message, but that’s not the point. The point is that we have a message that we have been assigned to deliver, we’ve been practicing faithfully for this last year, and we are going to chime out that message no matter what. It’s up to the Master Musician to do the rest. So, are we ready? It’s almost time.”

The bell choir stirred, positioning themselves, clappers at the ready, and all eyes on Clang.

“Tinkle?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Don’t forget, your part is critical. Sometimes people don’t hear the high notes, so you can’t hesitate or show weakness.”

“I won’t let you down, sir.”

Slowly the blackness outside the tower retreated before the insistence of the watery light of a winter sun. As it peeked above the horizon, Clang readied himself, gave the choir one last check, and nodded to Tinkle.

The high, light sound rang out loud and clear, followed by a rolling scale of melodious notes that reverberated across the awakening town.

Far below the tower, in the manse beside the church, a pastor looked up from his prayers. He had wrestled all night with his Christmas morning message. What could he say that would bring hope to a world where evil ruled men’s hearts, where even Christmas was banned with an “X”? How could he make sense of a world where, in the name of preserving peace, war was wrought?

He listened, remembered, and smiled. Hope was in God’s final note—which had yet to be played.

***************

And in despair I bowed my head/There is no peace on earth I said/For hate is strong and mocks the song/Of peace on earth, good will toward men/Then peeled the bells more loud and sweet/God is not dead nor doth he sleep/ The wrong shall fail, the right prevail/Of peace on earth, good will toward men/ (from: I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day)

 

The original poem, upon which the song is based, was written by Henry Wordsworth Longfellow. His son, Charles, had been gravely wounded in one of the many battles that occurred during the American Civil War. He was sent home in early December. It was then that Longfellow penned the words, but we never sing the two verses that he wrote that describe the horrors of the war his son had almost lost his life to fight.

Like Longfellow, we constantly need to be reminded that the end of the story hasn’t happened yet; the last note has not been played. Meanwhile, Jesus still reminds us: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27, NIV).

Hold that peace in your heart.

Lynda is a missionary, speaker, educator, writer, editor, and cat lover. She was born and raised in Timmins, the heart of gold mining country in northeastern Ontario, Canada. Lynda has served with Fellowship International for more than thirty years, first in Colombia, a brief stint on home staff in Toronto, Ontario and, more recently in Venezuela. She is currently on staff at First Baptist Church in Timmins, Ontario where her primary focus is spiritual formation. The author of Divine Design for Daily Living, a 365 day devotional journey through the entire Bible (published in Spanish and English),  Lynda blogs Lynda’s Grain of Sand, maintains her own website Northern Breezes , and has been seconded by Fellowship International to serve on the Communications team of The Fellowship of Evangelical Baptist Churches in Canada.

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