FOR WHOM THE BELLS TOLL
The other day in Benidorm I was surprised to hear the tingling of bells, especially in a sea side resort full of English people and old Spanish pensioners.
The bells song reminded me of childhood and my times in England where there was at my time no village in the rural country side without a belfry a parson and a sexton. It was like to hear the voice of hope in the middle of a nightmare. Bells, my beautiful bells.
For whom the bells toll? That was the title of a poem of John Donne snatched by Hemmingway to present one of his novels. I never liked Hemmingway (he is too clumsy) but I like Donne a good Anglican priest, the chaplain in the navy connected somewhat with Spain since he was on one of the ships commanded by Sir Francis Drake taking part in the assault to Cadiz. Oh England, my England. I love also Russia.
Both countries are messianic somehow in their on ways. There still the bells like this good old nun giving us a concert on the top of a campanile of a monastery 300 verst south of Moscow. The metallic tongue of the bells, its clapper, the bronze molded concealing secret sonorities calling for the divine liturgies, announcing Resurrection, nativities and deaths, even fires. is the voice of Christ.
Muslims detest chimes, they fear them like all the heathens, they get scared but I feel happy because these devices, old as Christianity, sound different one from the other.
A deacon baptizes these instruments when are mounted of the tower.
I remember the clocks of the Cathedral of York in Ascension day when my daughter Helen was christened. English bells compared with Spanish ones are small in diameter. In Mezquita de Cordoba there was one we called La gorda (the gross) weighting three tones.
Nothing is this compared with the one of Saint Petersborough with a gage of twelve, so that five people could not clasp its perimeter.
Benidorm is an exception – greetings to the priest of the Black Friars there for recovering that old and saint practice- because our “campanarios” since the Vatican Council went dumb. Then an era of confusion, Laity and moral laziness for the good believers commenced.
O I love that sound. If I get lost find me in England or in mother Russia. It is not easy in Spain like in most of Europe to be a Christian. Lord, have mercy. The bells are a remainder of the simplicity of our faith and tradition. We must be in alert to the strikes of the sweet bells.
ANTONIO PARRA, 22 Oct. 2012