The Sounds Around Us
written by Rev Gary Heard

What a relief to hear the overnight rain and wake to a damp garden, and the sounds of car tyres kicking up water in their wake as they drove past the house! While it is a long way from the drought-breaking rains we are all hoping and praying for, it is a wonderful reminder of God’s faithfulness, which continues even while we sleep, and which nourishes even in the most difficult of times.

Different sounds evoke emotional responses within us, as they touch upon deep-seated memories and experiences which have shaped us. On a recent journey to Adelaide, I undertook a “Heard history tour”, taking us around places and sights which were part of my early upbringing. The sounds of a railway boom gates evoked strange memories, which I subsequently explored with my parents: they had become known in family history as “the donder-donders”, reflecting their unique sound. It was one of the few sets of electronic railway gates in our area (most of which were manually-operated gates), and a reminder of the joy of seeing the Overland passing on its journey between Melbourne and Adelaide. The sound was also a reminder of much younger days, and other cherished experiences. Which is also to say that my children found them quite less than impressive!

Another early life sound which was quite moving was the tune Greensleeves – the sign of a nearby Mr Whippee van, with its fresh ice creams on a hot summer evening. How we would spring to life in animated pleas to our parents for such a refreshing treat.

In 1995, as part of the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War 2, a number of old fighter plans flew over Melbourne in tribute. I heard their distant drone as I worked in the rear garden of our home, and imagined the response they would have evoked during the war – the sign of an impending attack.

Sounds trigger important and deep-seated memories. The place of music in the life of the church and of many Christians is found in the memories they connect to: important life junctures, significant moments such as weddings, funerals, baptisms (remember in The Titanic, how those going down with the ship sang hymns?)

The advent of iPods and mp3 players often has the effect of closing our ears to the world around us, and at the same time deafening us to our own subtle inner cries. And as we become increasingly inured against the sounds of the world, so we become deaf to the one who utters the words “Let him who has ears, hear what the Spirit is saying…”

April 22, 2007
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