Fathom Mag
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Published on:
May 28, 2019
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2 min.
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Church Bells

When I got to the door, it was locked.
Rachel Joy Welcher

One of the old churches in town restored their bell. Now, in the middle of the day, I can hear the distant sound of hymns echoing through my open window. Today, at 5 pm, I was bent over my shasta daisies, plucking some weeds up by their roots when the bell chimed five times. It mingled with the gentle clinking of the wind chimes I recently placed on a tree branch in our garden. For some reason, it reminded me of the time that Evan and I got locked in a small country church in Scotland.

The sun was setting, but I still had enough light to snap some pictures of the flowers surrounding the old stone church. Everything grows in Scotland. You might laugh, but it’s a lot like Iowa. Plenty of rain, plenty of green. We could see just well enough to read the inscriptions on the tombs in the courtyard cemetery. We had spent hours wandering outside, and realized we should probably head back to our Airbnb, miles down the road. But first, we wanted to see inside the church.

Someone had given us a code. Only, there were two keys in the box, and we only took one into the church with us. After exploring the old pews and pulpit and noting the names of John Knox descendants on the wall, we heard the wind blow the door shut. I took my time walking back, testing the acoustics of the humble parish by singing one of Evan’s favorite songs, “Down to the River to Pray.” When I got to the door, it was locked. Evan tried the key. Nope. We tried it again. And again. And again. I looked at my cell phone. No reception.

We were told that the church only held services once a month, because they shared a pastor with two other parishes. I laughed nervously as Evan tried the key again. Somehow, I knew it would be a great memory. But also, I was having a panic attack. We looked at the windows surrounding the door made up stained glass, centuries old. There was no way we could harm one inch of that building. And there was no way for anyone outside to know we were there.

I asked Evan what he remembered about that day. Neither of us can recall exactly how we got out. I know I prayed. And I know we walked around a bit more, enjoying the beauty and the holy hush. Somehow, when we tried the key again, it worked. Maybe we are just bad with keys. Or maybe, God let us out. I don’t know. But I kind of love that it happened.

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Rachel Joy Welcher
Rachel Joy Welcher is an editor-at-large at Fathom Magazine. She earned a Master’s degree in theology from the The University of St. Andrews, taught high school English for ten years, is a published poet (Blue Tarp, Finishing Line Press), and writes for magazines such as Cordella, RELEVANT, and The Gospel Coalition. She lives with her husband Evan, who is a pastor in Glenwood, Iowa.

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