Sunday, September 14, 2008


(in which no pictures are included so as to focus on the sounds)
I live above a pizza place and so always in the evening there is the sound of chatter and laughter as people relax over a casual meal. Sometimes the voices and the music go on late into the night and often are mixed with the clattering of bottles being unloaded from a truck, and empty bottles being collected from the restaurant. Across the street is a casino and it isn’t unusual to hear loud talking on the street in the wee hours. Not long ago the most prevalent sound at night was the barking and whining of many dogs who wander randomly in the city. But I think when I was away this summer there must have been some kind of purge of the canine contingent. The first few nights after I returned I would lie awake at night wondering why it was so quiet and then I realized that I hadn’t heard or seen many dogs since I got back.
But still there are the sounds of people; sometimes an inconsiderate neighbor who plays very loud music in the middle of the night. But that doesn’t happen too often. In the evenings you can hear the sound of children running and playing, riding bikes, climbing and swinging in the playground between our apartment buildings. An older brother teases a sobbing sister, and an overtired child whines at the heels of an equally overtired mother. Behind my building is a kindergarten and when I am home on a week morning I can hear the children laughing and playing but always there is at least one child crying and the not-always-pleasant voice of the adult in charge.
My street is a route for trolleybuses and mini-buses so you can usually hear traffic going by, especially the distinctive sound of the trolleybuses, which should have been replaced with new buses long before this.

Today is Sunday and earlier in the afternoon there were some very loud sounds of cars honking their horns. I had seen a vehicle all decorated for a wedding so I wasn’t surprised. In Moldova weddings are often part of the worship service on a Sunday. I heard the horns and felt some of the excitement and joy of this new beginning for a young couple.

But now, with my balcony door open, (despite the September chill that has set in) I hear a new sound – but a very old sound. It is the sound of funeral dirges being played by a brass band. Through the tree branches I cannot see the band but the mournful sound rises clearly in our little community and it is known that someone is grieving for a lost loved one. For a while the other sounds seem to diminish and it is as if the sounds of joy and continuing life stand back for a while in respect for this profound reality. The dirge stops for a bit and I guess that the customary ceremony of the priest saying some prayers and maybe reading some Scripture is taking place. In a village the funeral procession would be walking from the home of the dear departed – where the wake had been held with the open coffin in a room of the house – to the cemetery. At each corner the procession would stop for some words from the priest. In a Baptist ceremony, the gospel would be preached at every corner, with the evidence of the brevity of life in full display as people consider their own eternal destiny. Today I cannot see the procession but the dirges continue, with breaks in between for whatever words of comfort, hope, or warning are being shared.

So many sounds here in my fourth floor home. I stand on my balcony to see if I can see the funeral band. I cannot. But I can hear, here among the treetops, the sound of the breeze blowing through the leaves. And I remember Jesus’ words about the Spirit of God:
‘The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’ (John 3:8)
I can hear the sound of the wind, but can I hear the sound of the Spirit? More than any other sound, may I hear the voice of the Spirit of God speaking to me of things eternal , of Jesus Christ, and of how I might bring praise and glory to God in the space of this brief life. I hope that you, too, dear reader, are listening for the sound of the Spirit of God speaking to your heart.

No comments:

Post a Comment