16 Feb Listen for the Joy
What are your favorite sounds? This was the question that was posed to me a couple of weeks ago by a friend. It’s a fun question and a profound one. Think about it….what are your favorite sounds?
For me, there are several that jump immediately to mind. I love the sound of laughter. I love the sound of Emily and David calling me, “Mom.” I love the sound of ocean waves or a gurgling fountain. I love the sound of a congregation at worship. I love the sound of a masterfully played sultry saxophone.
With a mother who was (and still is) a singer and music teacher, music has been an integral part of my life since I was born. One of my earliest memories is of sitting outside on the front stoop of our house in Birmingham, Alabama, playing records on my portable record player. I must have been around five years old at the time. Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, The Jungle Book, Cinderella, Peter Pan—I could not get enough of my favorite songs and musicals. Later, as a teenager, the genre and artists changed, but the love of music did not. From the Doobie Brothers to Simon & Garfunkel to Michael Jackson, music was usually playing in my bedroom. And that doesn’t even account for the classical pieces I was practicing on the piano or the arias my mom was preparing for opera rehearsals and performances.
It can be easy to forget what a precious gift it is to be able to hear the sounds that matter most to us. The voices of our loved ones, the cacophonies within nature, the spoken or sung word—these sounds are powerful. They can be illuminating, transformative, and encouraging. But the sounds we hear are not always positive, of course.
Some sounds elicit rapturous joy while others kick-drop us into the throes of grief. Some sounds invite us to relax in safety while others make the hairs on the back of our necks stand up, alerting us to danger. Some sounds comfort while other sounds criticize and judge.
The same sound can affect folks differently. As I sit at work today, the blare of car horns honking and traffic whizzing past, plus a couple of men yelling at each other across the street provide the “accompaniment” to my day. Some people love the noise and energy of these sounds because it gives an “aliveness” to the day. Other people find it a distracting, disturbing racket and create ways to block it all out so they can focus on the task at hand or simply enjoy the quiet. To a frazzled parent with a colicky child, the sound of a wailing infant can fray one’s nerves while to a new parent experiencing a long-awaited birth or adoption, a crying baby is the answer to years of prayers and a source of unbridled celebration. As with so many things, expectations and perspective have a lot to do with shaping our reality.
Today, let’s pause and appreciate the sounds that make our lives meaningful and fun and significant. Let’s give thanks for the variety of beautiful sounds that fill our lives. As scripture reminds us, God is the giver of every good gift. God has given us life in stereo. Whether you prefer it pianissimo and melodic, or cranked up and rockin’ out, let’s spend a few minutes listening today.
Yours for the Kingdom,