Dellinda EbelingThis article written by Dellinda Ebeling, Area 9 Chair-Elect

You meet someone new, the small talk begins, and you’re asked that question…”So what do you do for fun?” And maybe one of your first answers is, “I ring handbells.” That now familiar moment of silence falls on the conversation, and you finally get one of several responses: “Oh, that’s nice.” “My grandmother used to ring handbells.” “What’s that?” How do you answer? How do you explain something so intangible?

“Passion” has many definitions — a strong and barely controllable emotion, an intense enthusiasm for something, feeling, emotion, fire, excitement, energy, animation, gusto, zest, spiritedness, commitment, fanaticism, obsession, preoccupation. “Radical” can be described as a change or action affecting the fundamental nature of something, far-reaching or thorough. As I think back on my own experiences, especially in my last six years as a director, I have noticed several trends which have evolved and speak to the passion of the people I get to “play” with on a weekly basis.

1) There are not a lot of turnovers. We have lost a few ringers due to illness, unavoidable demands, or moving; but not because he or she just hated ringing.

2) Several of us ring in two church ensembles because we don’t get enough in just one. And our new community group includes approximately half of both groups’ ringers who still want more.

3) Ringers with minimal experience are welcomed and nurtured by others with more experience, and we continue to up our level of repertoire and develop more musicality.

4) More and more of our ringers now want their music in advance and, actually, spend time working on it at home.

5) A few of the ringers have taken the initiative to join HMA.

6) Interest is growing in events outside our immediate area. Four of us are attending an event out of state this summer, and it will be a first for three of them. Why are they willing to take precious vacation days to leave home for several days to ring handbells? They didn’t even wait for me to order their music and are already practicing at home with spatulas and wooden spoons.

Radical indeed. Passionate? You bet.

Yes, we love handbells, ringing, and the music. But even more, it’s the spirit of family and community that has knitted a random group of people together. It’s the sharing of personal information in a place of trust and confidence. It’s the caring when their family members or friends need the compassion and prayers they know they can depend on from the others. It’s the joyous events in which we all can celebrate. It’s the commitment and sense of responsibility we share by being together and accomplishing something as a group that we cannot do alone. Passion leads to radical change…who wouldn’t want that?