In the early days of the advice to self-isolate, the clock in the First Church in Roxbury steeple stopped chiming. As streets all around Boston -- and the state and nation -- began to empty and grow quiet, the silence from our steeple was especially deafening.
"I am ever-aware of our churches," our dear friend Andrea Gilmore, the volunteer preservationist from Dedham guiding our project to restore the First Church in Roxbury Meetinghouse, wrote to me last week. "I am ever-aware of our churches and the anchors they provide in times of crisis. Over the years, as I have worked on church buildings, I have tried to imagine them in times of crisis -- during the Civil War, the two World Wars, the Depression, the 1918 Influenza Epidemic. I can remember 9/11 and I will always remember the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Our churches are beacons of hope in our communities and symbols that life goes on and we heal."
When our clock stopped chiming, we were blessed by a good neighbor who stepped in. Chris, the head of the seven-person volunteer neighborhood crew that winds our clock each week, quickly climbed the steeple and repaired the clock mechanism.
That night, our neighborhood heard its ringing again.
While we are not yet at the point of life going on and healing, the pealing bells of First Church are a reminder that we will be there soon. And that, in the meantime, we are still here.
And you are still here. Socially distanced as we are, we are still here together.