Sunday, April 09, 2006

The Stones Cry Out

Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Luke 19:39, 40

I have heard stones sing. It was one of the strangest and most beautiful sounds I have ever heard. Here’s how it happened…

My wife can ring church bells. BC (Before Children), she used to ring with the Sheffield Universities Guild of Change Ringers on a Monday night at St Marie’s Roman Catholic Cathedral in the centre of Sheffield. I am not a bell-ringer (it is too complicated for me!), but I used to walk into town to join them in the pub afterwards. I’d meet them outside the cathedral door. En route, I’d always be asked for money by one of the street-sleepers; and, rather than giving them money, I’d buy them a Burger King meal instead. I don’t know if I’d do that these days – not that I no longer care so much for homeless people; but I no longer care so much for fast-food chains! Anyway, I digress…One night I pitched up at the cathedral a little early, and just as one of the priests was exiting the building. He invited me to come in, and wait inside the church. So I sat in the church, and listened to the stones sing…

I have to say that I don’t particularly like the sound of bells travelling through air and bouncing off all the irregular tall buildings in the city centre. But the sound of bells travelling through thick stone walls, so that the stones themselves and the space they enclose resonate with ethereal noise, is incredible – and haunting. The stones sang harmonics; and it was beautiful worship.

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