The Bell and The Switch

The Big Bell

The Big Bell

As a child, I didn’t want to hear The Bell. It resonated through the pine trees of the woods where I was building the perfect straw house; it caught me dunking a glass jar in the creek to catch the biggest tadpole I’d ever seen; it caused me to brake my Blue Schwinn bike on a red dirt road after I’d peddled all the way up a hill so I could fly down it again. The Bell instructed me to stop all that. The Bell meant, “Come home.”

A child, of course, comes into the world with irritating abilities. One of them is the ability to close her ears to what she doesn’t want to hear. A child wants to finish the straw house. She wants to capture the tadpole. She wants the excitement of flying down a hill, fast as the wind. A child wants what she wants. Still, The Bell calls. And in the course of its annoying jangle, a child considers consequence.

For me, the consequence of not answering The Bell was The Switch. At first, I was able to choose The Switch. My mother, the bell ringer, pointed a stiff finger. “You will obey the rules of this house. Now, go get me a switch off the Redbud.” This command, I chose to hear. Except I brought back the wimpiest branch I could find. When I laughed and told her it tickled, she resorted to finding The Switch on her own. A little stronger, a little longer, it laid as a symbol of consequence on the top shelf of the bookcase in our den.

As adults, we are busy. Obeying the rules, or even standing by our own beliefs, is a hard thing to do. Today, the rules are watery; we dilute them to suit ourselves. Our beliefs are spineless; we rarely consider their depth. And sometimes we call consequences of our own making, ‘unfair.’ We spout off platitudes, meant to show that we’re ‘okay’ people, but we don’t realize that we’re called to be much more than just ‘okay.’ The Apostle Peter (2 Peter 1:4) says that we “participate in the Divine Nature.” No matter who or what we are, we’re called to this holiness. And that’s a bell-ringer with consequences.

We can recognize, or not, that we’re part of the Divine. Like a child hearing a bell she doesn’t want to hear, we can close our ears. We can ignore the consequences. As for me, I can still see The Switch on the bookcase, and hear The Bell calling me home.

Copyright 2013 Kaye Hickley

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