When I awoke as a boy, it was always to bells; first to the slow, dipodic clanging of the switch engine bells on the Norfolk and Western Line, the main yard of which ran past our house and carried millions of tons of freight and coal, troop and passenger trains, and shrouded armaments for war. No matter the time of day or night, the bells were there, a part of consciousness as sure as the fog and drizzle of the Appalachian valleys. Then, from the Spanish gothic bell tower of Sacred Heart, the lesser bell rang out the Angelus, serving notice to the world that the Word had become flesh and dwelt among us, calling us to kneel and pray. At Mass the triple hand bells I rang insisted on the greatest happening in the universe, and they echoed in the stone of the sanctuary, a place where bells said, “Awake! Awake to these Mysteries!” At Easter, when the Gloria was sung for the first time since Ash Wednesday, we rose exulting as two bell-ringers were lifted off their feet, pulling hard on the bell ropes, and the great bells pealed out the news that He is risen. On school mornings, Sister Innocentia stood in the school door and rang the large hand bell, which must have reminded her of school and her own youth in Germany. And, a special memory: One morning my mother and I were on the way to church when every train and church bell (and steam whistle) sounded together. I looked to her in fear and amazement; she explained through her tears, “The war is over!” Bells permeated my existence then: life meant bells; church meant bells; bells called me to the mystery of things.