The Bells of Trinity Cathedral

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The bells of Trinity Cathedral rang out over St. James Park and downtown San Jose every Sunday morning for 130 years. They rang out on other days, too, in celebration of local and national events, and even rang themselves in 1906 and 1989 to celebrate -- or at least acknowledge -- the earthquakes.

But in 2013, after the bells were removed for long-overdue maintenance and retuning, new seismic standards came into effect and the bell tower needed $80,000 worth of repairs before the bells could ring again. To date, a little over half that amount has been raised, and outside of Trinity's small, aging congregation, nobody seems to care.

Certainly not the drug dealers who do their business right across the street in St. James Park. The bells were a dangerous distraction from covert transactions, quickly passed from hand to hand.
Certainly not the drunks and the addicts, who wake up each morning only half convinced they are lucky to still be alive. The bells were a clanging reminder that their lives were passing away, lost in a confusing haze, one hit after another, day after day after day.

And certainly not the techies a few blocks away in San Pedro Square, who spend their days indoors, staring at big screens. At night, they want to be outside, staring at small screens, always checking in so they don't miss the next big thing. They don't want to look up, or look away, because they hear church bells in the distance.

I came to Trinity Cathedral at the lowest point in my life, when I thought my move to San Jose was the biggest mistake I'd ever made. I'd been away from the church -- away from all church -- for 30 years, making my own way through this life. And then one day I returned and was welcomed back, no questions asked.


Church bells are a constant reminder that God is still there, even if we're not, waiting and permanent in an otherwise ephemeral world.

The bells of Trinity Cathedral are silent now, and nobody seems to care. But I do. And you should, too.

With a Perspective, I'm Tom Moriarty.

Tom Moriarty teaches writing and rhetoric at San Jose State University.