My neighbor, Margaret, had a little bell by her back door, and when my children were tiny, every time we visited, I’d hold my son and daughter up so they could ring the bell. As they grew older they could reach the bell themselves making it sound to alert Margaret they were there to play cards, drink sodas, and eat cookies.
But as the years went by, the children grew into teenagers, and their interest in ringing the bell waned. My neighbor repainted her house and took the bell down.
I saw it one day on a shelf in her utility room. Made of cast iron, it had grown rusty in the southern humidity and looked a bit like scrap metal.
“What are you doing with that bell?” I asked.
“I guess I’ll get rid of it,” Margaret said. “Do you want it?”
I took the bell home and put it on a shelf myself trying to decide what to do with it. A short time later, our dear neighbor died.
Recently, I came upon the rusty bell, took if from the shelf and decided to see if sanding and a new coat of black paint would make a difference. It did, and I put it by the studio door. I included a photo of it in my blog banner.
William Morris said, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Not exactly a sight to behold and not anything one might actually call lovely, I believe my bell to be beautiful. I can see it from my office in the sunroom, and it reminds me of bright days, and children’s laughter, and my wonderful neighbor. And occasionally I give it a little jangle when I go to the studio.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 reads, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
How God makes everything beautiful in its time is beyond my understanding. A whole lot of things look really ugly to me right now. And yet, that’s what the book says.
But, I remember situations which looked impossible decades ago, and yet now, I see God has redeemed them and reframed them in the context of eternity.
Sometimes we may feel set aside, but just like my neighbor's rusty bell, God gives us new life when we submit to him for what can feel like sanding, but under his care, we once more ring out with purpose.