Several years ago, two of my daughters participated in our church’s bell choir. They were only a part of the group for a few months, but it was a good experience. They weren’t too sure about it when I first suggested it, but they had an excellent teacher and they grew to enjoy it. It was an easy opportunity a couple of times each month for me to tell them how proud I am of them. Sometimes during adolescence (especially with girls) it’s a challenge to find such prideful moments.
These days I often think of my daughters’ brief bell choir days because every work day I hear a different chorus of bells. Elevator bells. The high-rise building I work in has four elevator bays in its large lobby. The first bay has two elevators dedicated to a few floors for small, private businesses. The second bay has six elevators that service the lower floors of our building. There are another six elevators that ride “express” to floors 15–22. And the final bay of six elevators zooms up to floors 23–30. That’s a total of twenty elevators, each of which dings every time it lands on the main floor.
For much of the day the lobby is quiet and only occasional dings echo across the vast marble floor. But during the morning and lunch “rush hours”, there is a constant chorus of dings as people bustle about. Most people have grown accustomed to this bell choir and don’t pay attention to the dings unless they’re waiting for an elevator to arrive. And sometimes there are so many people moving about and so much commotion that you have to really focus to hear that bell chorus.
Sometimes just for fun, when my schedule isn’t too demanding, I like to grab a cup of hot tea and find a place to sit in the lobby for a few minutes during the morning rush hour. Even though there are many people passing through, they’re usually a bit quieter than the crowd at lunchtime. Maybe they’re still waking up. None of them pay me any attention. Perhaps, sitting there listening to the elevator bells is a form of meditation. Some might think it’s appreciating the music of bells. I think of it as an acknowledgment of life.
People coming and going. Energy and movement. Life. In the moment.
Some people come through the lobby loaded down with heavy bags—shoes, lunches, laptops, purses—and maybe even heavy hearts or thoughts. Others come in smiling, visibly eager to get on with their day, and some appear in a hurry so as not to be late for a meeting or phone call. Many have on earbuds listening to music or talk radio. Several walk while looking at their Smartphones, alone in their universe and aware only when some motion invades their personal space. A few people pass from the outside to an elevator bay hesitantly, grudgingly, seemingly dreading what awaits them once they arrive upstairs. It’s to those people I want to call out, “Listen to the music of the bells.”