The town that I lived in in Germany was a very small one… it has a population of about 530 and I like to joke that there are more cows and livestock than people living there. I loved that almost everyone knew each other and that neighbors watched out for each other… you didn’t see much of that in the huge Chigago suburbs.
There are things that I miss about living in a town that small. As strange (and disgusting) as it may sound, I miss the smell of the freshly fertilized fields in the spring. I miss the smell of fresh cut hay. I miss the darkness at night… the town I lived in turned off the streetlights at 11pm. I miss the silence… there’s not much silence where we live now.
While I wasn’t always too fond of them at the time, I miss waking up at 7:30 am to the sound of church bells. It was and is tradition over there for the church to ring there bells daily at 7:30 am, 11:30 am and 7 pm (mum, please correct me if I’m wrong… you would know best right now seeing that you’re over there!!). It was a way to let the farmers working in the fields know what time it was back when not everyone wore watches or had cell phones.
The church in the small town that I was born in… the town that I moved back to after high school… is not nearly as old as the town itself (which is over 1400 years old), but it still boasts an 800 year history (give or take a few years). It is only fitting that with a church that old some traditions remain, such as the ringing of the bells.
They didn’t just ring for the farmers though… they naturally also rang to let us know that Mass would be starting soon… I can’t remember exactly, but I think it was 15 minutes before Mass began… not that it ever took us that long to walk to church… it was just around the corner. They rang to spread news to the townspeople… not that news would spread quickly in a town that small anyway… they spread news that sometimes was expected… and other times wasn’t. Either way, you were usually caught off guard by them ringing at an unscheduled time, in the deep, slow melody of the death bells.
I don’t know if they rang that Tuesday night two weeks ago when my uncle passed, or the following day, but but I’m sure that they rang. I wonder how many people were at home and heard them… did they already know who it was? It went too fast… much too fast. The memorial service was today… I wonder if they rang again…
Lieber Wolfgang… wir werden dich vermissen!