Hear (verb) 1.to perceive by the ear; listen to; give or pay attention to --Random House Dictionary
"I could hear the great humming, pulsating sound that seemed to fill all the heavens, the sound of tremendous energies in motion." --Norman Paulsen
How do you know that you are finally on vacation, really on vacation? That you are fully away, checked out, mellowed down, unplugged, chilled, relaxed, just gone?
For some it is the liberation from a daily calendar and to-do lists which embodies downtime. Days filled with whatever the spirit desires: drippy soft ice cream or a quiet canoe on a pond or a morning’s sail, no watch or clock in sight, just moments unfolding in grace. Some need to be in a wholly different space and place, somewhere far, far away, a foreign land, an exotic destination. For them vacation bliss is about a passport or a plane ticket or a train stub, immersing themselves in a strange land, getting lost and going off the map. Sometimes vacation time is about food, tastes we connect to being away: a cold beer in a coozie on the beach, butter soaked lobsters on the deck, or a precious clam roll from a roadside shack you visit but once a year.
This summer my vacation has been marked by the God-given sounds of the season, aural gifts that I only seem to pay attention to and really, really hear when I am away. The cry of a loon as it takes off from a Minnesota lake in the early morning: I heard that haunting song and knew mystery. The crack of the bat at my 4 year-old Goddaughter’s very first T-ball game, and her laughter as she ran down the first base line: I heard that and knew joy. The gentle lapping of water against an ancient wooden dock at dusk: I heard that and felt peace. Cicadas buzzing away on a sultry afternoon: I heard that and knew that right now, it is the heart of summer and I better listen up!
What are your summer sounds? Have you heard them yet?
I’m not sure why sounds are so much sweeter to me in the weeks of July and August, so sacred, so different from what I am used to hearing the rest of the year. Maybe it is because I actually spend time outdoors. I escape from the confines of house and office and car. Sounds normally muffled and muted are offered for free and I hear them. The sounds of busy modern life do not often leave enough space to hear God’s summer symphony: alarm clocks buzzing, email chirping, horns honking. Even worse all of us can be so plugged into I-Pods and I-Pads and radio and TV and electronica that there may be no space for natural sound to get in.
We’re deaf in a way, so saturated in manufactured sound that the hum and rhythm of creation and life is lost, muted by our machines. Throughout the Bible writers and prophets and priests harken to humanity with one basic plea: “Listen!” As the Proverbs teach, “Let the wise listen and add to their wisdom.” If only I might heed this advice the next time I fall in love with the sound of my own voice.
The gift of faith us that it calls us to slow down just enough, quiet ourselves on vacation and in all of life, so we can be present to God’s communication, sound. Within the Hindu faith tradition is the concept of “Nada Brahma”, which literally means that God is in sound, all sound, even in the sound of silence. Sensual nirvana yes: but first we must open our ears and in that opening, open our hearts and souls too.
This day, can you listen to God? In the coo of an infant in her mother’s lap, in the chirp of a hungry bird on the backyard feeder, in the lilt of our loved one’s voice as we sit at the breakfast table, or even in the thump of our own heart beating as we lie in bed. It is all there for the hearing, the amazing sounds of the universe. Our Creator is speaking to us.