The Grandfather Clock

It was a wonderful gift given by some dear friends. They were downsizing and moving into the senior housing at the Baptist Village in Owasso, Oklahoma. Vernon Smith and his wife Esther helped organize our church in 1935. Vernon was a banker, a deacon, church treasurer and the first choir director. Esther’s funeral service in 1975 was the largest I had ever officiated. Later, Vernon married Ollie Shannon, whom he had rediscovered at their high school reunion. When Vernon and Ollie moved, we received their grandfather clock. 

Grandfather clocks need to be moved gently. There is a pendulum, heavy weights and chains, and delicate moving parts all housed in a cabinet nearly seven feet tall. It fit perfectly in our front hall just down from the bedrooms. It chimes every fifteen minutes, longer and longer rings until it “bongs” the hour. At first it nearly drove me crazy. I knew when it was 2:15 or 4:45 a.m. in my so-called sleep. Overnight guests would comment on the clock. The Westminster Chime is the classic ring that it is set to. Also, there are options to set it to the Winchester or the Whittington Chimes. I tried them all—still less sleep. Then one day, I adjusted.

What keeps you awake at night these days? For me it is the ever-present blanket of grief and loss this year that is weighing on my heart. Since last December I have officiated or participated in 18 funerals, all with long personal relationships. I listen for the “still small voice” of God’s grace.

After I set the clock back to the Westminster Chime, I barely noticed 3 a.m. Before long I was sleeping through the night again. One day Vernon asked me how I was adjusting to the clock. He proceeded to tell me about the secret little hook that prevents it from chiming at all. By then it was too late. About thirty-five years have passed listening to that grandfather clock. It keeps perfect time if I remember to wind it regularly. The sound of the chime has become so familiar I rarely hear it at all. I have adjusted to its rhythm and sound. I wonder sometimes if the chimes were turned off, would the quiet keep me awake?

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Listen closely. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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