I loved the church bells in Italy. They reminded me of the Christian tradition of praying the hours. In a tiny village where we stayed, the bells sounded every hour between 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. I didn’t need to wear a watch — after a short time, I relaxed into the comfortable rhythm of daily village life. As I heard the bells throughout the day they brought me back to the present moment — of waking, eating, resting, praying, praising, reflecting, preparing for sleep.
The 7:00 a.m. Bells
The village followed the rhythm of these hours. Before 7:00 a.m., the only sounds I could hear were the waves and the swallows. After 7:00, the people of the village began to move around — sweeping the sidewalks, opening up the cappuccino shops, the baker loading the station wagon with warm brioche (sweet pastries) to drive to the nearby towns. The children started their hikes up the hill to the school. Listen to the 7:00 a.m. bells:
The 5:00 p.m. bells
The village quieted down for a siesta around 2:00 p.m.. Most all of the restaurants and stores closed for a 3-hour rest. During those hours, the bells continued to ring, but quieter. (I settled down for a nap.) Around 4:00 p.m., the men of the village gathered in the square to play cards.
Then at 5:00 p.m. the siesta time came to an end with rousing peal from the bells. By 7:00 p.m., restaurants opened back up to serve dinner. Here is a recording of the 5:00 p.m. bells:
I miss the bells of Italy and their reminders to stay in the present. What are the reminders that bring you back from the future or the past? What helps you stay in the present moment?
Learn More about Praying the Hours
- My friend, Phyllis Tickle has some wonderful resources to help you pray the hours. (I just bought her Divine Hours – Pocket Edition for Kindle and put it on my iPhone.) See Phyllis’ website.
- Praying the Hours online — the Prayer Foundation.
- The Virtual Abbey offers the daily office on Twitter.