49 Bells to Remember Pulse

Forty-Nine Bells

Let us ring one for tears, one for parents left,
one for lovers, one for siblings,
one for friends, one for friends never made.

Let us ring, and it is seven,
for the talents that will not be shared,
the music not sung, dinners not shared,
stories that will not be told,
the invention or the poem
which will not be.

Let us ring, and it is thirteen
for people who are afraid to go dancing,
for hatreds that are growing in secret,
for mental illness
which will not be treated
because of the selfishness of health care,
for ugliness wrapped in god-language,
for people who still think
their guns are more precious than neighbors,
and for even one person
who will not come out.

Let us ring and it is nineteen
for parentless children,
the empty spaces in pride parades,
for how Orlando
doesn’t mean Disney World 
to anyone older than twelve,
and Pulse doesn’t mean
I’m-still-alive-and-I-can-make-a-difference.
to most of us over sixty.

Let us ring twenty-five
because of grandmas,
twenty-six because of grandpas,
and twenty-seven
to include all the people
who brought flowers and signs
to the nightclub, wrote on facebook,
said a prayer.

For the smallest of bells begins
the ringing of hope.

Let us ring one bell for every word –
this will not happen again.

And ring – courage, hope, pride,
compassion, gun control,
the healing of hatred,
the easing of fears,
the commitment to change.

Let us ring and it is forty-one
for the future of Orlando,
for the possibility of love, all kinds of love,
for the claiming of identity –
all that discovering
of what it is to be human,
for the welcome in faith communities
where everyone is safe.

Let us ring a rainbow,
ring so we will always remember,
and ring tomorrow.

And I will ring a bell for you,
if you will ring a bell for me.

From the United Church of Christ. A year ago on June 12, 2016 on a Sunday morning many of us awakened to the reality that Latinx Night at Pulse Night Club, an LGBTQ+ community gathering spot… a sanctuary… a safe-haven… in the midst of Pride Celebration, had become the site of one of the worse mass shootings in US history. Many of us gathered afterwards to pray and grieve the 49 lives lost, the 53 wounded survivors and some of us, with difficulty found the energy to pray for the one lone individual who lost his connection to love.

This year Orlando, Florida is calling for a day of unity on June 12, 2017 dedicated to the lives lost at Pulse Orlando: “Orlando United Day – A Day of Love and Kindness.” There are many ways that the Orlando community will be actively engaged, but one way that we as communities of faith are being invited to participate is with the use of our church bells. We are invited to ring our church bells 49 times at noon (local time) on June 12, 2017. Faith communities who worship in a building without a bell can participate in this project by posting the number “49” on their signs.

Our bells have traditionally rung at moments of crisis alerting us of a community need. They toll after death and they toll when we celebrate. We the United Church of Christ are invited by Nancy Rosado of Somos Orlando, to respond to the request made by One Orlando Alliance on behalf of the many wailing mothers whose children were taken way too soon. They are asking our support in spreading love.

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5 Responses to 49 Bells to Remember Pulse

  1. ivy tillman says:

    Maren, i hope you are well. Thank you so much for this. i was traveling on the 12th, and while it did not escape my memory or my prayers, when i got home, and saw this, shared on our church’s fb page, it was such a relief to, foremost, know that in the midst of all the crap that is happening around us these days, that this moment in the past was vividly remembered and recalled, but beyond that, the ringing reminds us that there are living people who are still affected, and that the call to “never forget” is not just for the dead, but also for our living people, our values, our all-too-real fears, and our longed-for hope. So even though the return is late, thank you for ringing the bell for me; i ring one now for you (ding). Thank you.

    • Maren says:

      Definitely, I am so happy to have you post it! and lovely to know that, in so many ways, you are ringing bells of justice for us all.

  2. ivy tillman says:

    Oh, forgot. i am posting this on the First Church Amherst ONA page. i am going to say reprinted by permission, but if that’s not okay, please let me know, and i’ll take it down. peace.

  3. powerful and truly needed blessings to you

  4. Maren says:

    Thank you so much.

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