He had lived here for 60 years now. It was his main task to ring the bell for prayer, meals and sleeping times. He had to use a stick to get to the tower now, but he was determined to always be that person, to be of some use. At the beginning of his time there, he had wondered at his choice of life, and doubted the rightfulness of it. To be here, away from the world, had not always sat well with him. But as the years passed, as he allowed himself to let the kingom of heaven in, more and more, he knew that this was what he was made for.
Today he stood and looked out across the lake, silvery velvet in the evening light, and felt only thankfulness. Gratitude for this solitude, for these simple tasks, for these brothers. Oh, they did annoy him more than he felt grateful for them, but that was humanity. Not a beautiful silence, as many probably thought, but a rough, real community, surviving together only by the grace of God.
What would become of this place, years from now? He did not know that in ten centuries’ time, his bell tower would be in ruins, and two laughing children would be clambering all over it, oblivious to the ancient life that it had once held.
All he knew was his purpose, and his God. Nothing else was important. So that evening, like every evening for 60 years, the bells in the tower rang out.