The Ringing of Temple Bells




The San Francisco UU church has a ritual of ringing the temple bells eight times each week for various people and places that need love and remembrance. Here is the litany that was read last week;


Ritual of Remembrance and Commitment (gongs)

Recognizing there is human suffering all over this world in the course of natural and human catastrophes, we ring our gong today in honor of three such places of suffering and struggle.


We ring our gong first, as we have since July of 2019, for those lives held and those lives lost in federal custody in our detention camps. For the mounting trauma to children separated from their families, for all people held without charges in less than transparent or humane circumstances; in this repeat of some of the most shameful chapters in our nation’s and our world’s history of xenophobia, racism and greed. We ring the gong 7 times for another week of days in which human dignity has been dismissed and for our responsibility for that as citizens of this country.

We ring our gong additionally, once, for the losses this week to COVID-19. This last week 66,981 people died of COVID-19 globally, 3,747 in the United States alone. We hold in our hearts all of these losses, each one of those people precious and worthy of health and safety. And we hold with gratitude all who are working around the world to produce and distribute vaccines and all other efforts to support greater health, survival and immunity from the virus.


Finally, we ring our gong once for the people of Afghanistan, suffering from decades of war fueled by factions from within and from foreign involvements. We pray for safety, peace, and freedom for the children, women, and men of Afghanistan, as we pray for our soldiers and their families whose lives were forever changed there. We are deeply remorseful for the way our country’s politics added to the suffering in that region. We pray that all who wield power will learn from our mistakes.


May we keep those we have named and their loved ones in our thoughts and in our prayers. And may we ease the tide of human suffering this coming week howsoever we can.




This ritual touches me. It’s global reach and call is powerful. And, on a personal note, I also

began to ponder who are the people and places in me that need the sound of that bell, the litany of love and remembrance;


The one who judges,

the one who worries,

the one who makes mistakes,

the one who withholds,

the one who forgets,

the one who fears,

the one who doesn’t pay attention,

the one who wants to be better.



Who or what in you needs to hear a bell of love and remembrance?

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