by Rev. Peter Friedrichs
Through the wonder of Facebook, I’ve discovered a recording that an artist has made of crickets chirping in the night. That doesn’t sound very exciting, I know. But this isn’t just any recording. What Robert Wilson has done is to take a recording of crickets, just like you hear in your yard, and play it back at a much slower speed. Upon doing this, he discovered that the chirping turned into a chorus. It sounds truly magical and astounding. Here’s how musician Tom Waits describes it: “It sounds like a choir, it sounds like angel music. Something sparkling, celestial with full harmony and bass parts — you wouldn't believe it. It's like a sweeping chorus of heaven.” You can hear it for yourself if you go to this page on the Web.
We are so indebted to artists, to those creative types who have the vision to listen to a common cricket and wonder what it might sound like to play back its “chirp” at a slower-than-normal speed. Artists seek out new ways of seeing and hearing things and, gratefully, they share them with us. How many times have we heard the chorus of crickets chirping away at night and only heard so much “white noise?” Who knew that they were a choir of angels, singing their celestial songs?
The spiritual theme for the month of November is “tradition.” As we march toward the holidays of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Solstice, and Christmas, we begin to think about pulling out the decorations from the attic or basement. We renew family traditions of meals around the table, gift giving, and the exchange of greeting cards (or at least thinking about sending cards). These traditions connect us with our past, with our childhood, with our ancestors and families of origin. Unfortunately, they can also become times of pressure and expectation, of frantic preparation and exhausted completion.
So, in the coming weeks and months, let us remember the crickets. Perhaps you might even take time to stop and listen to this recording now and again. Let us remind ourselves to slow down and to take the time to look at something familiar and perhaps see it anew, as if for the first time. We can even engage our cherished traditions in this way. As we set the table or bake a pie or decorate our home, we can stop to remember who taught us to do it just this way, offering up a prayer of gratitude to those who helped shape our lives and make us who we are. We can take what might otherwise be a rote response to the season and make it a true act of thanksgiving. Although the crickets may be safely tucked away for the winter, may their celestial choir continue to inspire us to search for the hidden beauty in our everyday lives.
From November 2013 Focus