The incredible gift of sound

When you consider the amazing, God-given ability for us to aurally distinguish between a plethora of sounds at any given moment, from any particular source, it is frankly a miracle.

If you were to randomly listen to five different friends or acquaintances speak the same sentence over the phone, you would undoubtedly be able to label them with pinpoint accuracy, including what mood they were in when they said it.

The human voice is a finely skilled musical instrument. With practice, both the speaker and the audience can become a vehicle for successful communication.

Think about how precious and lovely it is to be able to hear a loved one’s voice again. I often told my piano students over the years how many different ways there were to be able play a single note or phrase, because it would make all the difference in the world between a technician replicating a sound and a true artist’s rendition where it would come alive, and the “magic” would finally happen.

How many different sorts of sounds can trigger our emotions, from nature alone, depending on your background, geographical location, and access to certain variety. Birds chirping and singing lustily at the crack of dawn, throughout the day, gladly proclaiming their same joyful litany of praise, knowing God will meet their needs for yet another day. Dogs barking, cats meowing, horses, all manner of barn and farm critters, wild and free.

In Africa, while camping or traveling, we often heard the roar of lions, chatter of monkeys and baboons, hiss of venomous snakes, trumpeting elephants, whoops of hyenas outside our tent at night, and so many others from God’s magnificent array of exotic choices from His spectacular canvas, teaming with life.

Ethnic music from all over the world, such as vibrant African drums passing on messages from village to village or just signaling another night of “come on over and let’s dance and storytell the night away” can evoke past memories or elicit longings to create more in the near future.

“Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast.”

— Shakespeare

How very true.

How about the vast array of the sounds of babies cooing, learning to babble and develop their skill of their language with their tongues. Shrieks of laughter, attempts at new words, delights, protest, and so much more. Remember that they learn by imitation, too, so be careful what and how you say it!

Auditory stimulation can also elicit responses of fear from our past — such as PTSD, for example — which, with correct counseling and processing, can be diffused and heal.

We need to have dissonance in our lives to truly appreciate the consonance. Both the black and white keys blend together to create either a phenomenal symphony or a disastrous, contentious “Rite of Spring,” by Stravinsky, that succeeded in creating a riot at its premiere performance.

It has been said by Thomas Carlyle that “silence is golden,” and, for introverts, that can mean soothing, but, to extroverts, annoying, and vice-versa.

Some people love constant noise, or aural stimulation, like having the TV on at all times, while others appreciate the healing quiet and soothing sound of peace and quiet.

The incredible gift of sound, along with its counterpart of listening and truly being heard and hearing others in this world, is a lost art.

I would encourage all of us to actively pursue and hone those skills today as we continue to count another of our blessings of the senses and our amazing gift to be able to truly hear and respond.

This column is published posthumously with permission from the family. Missionary kid Loretta Beyer grew up in Zimbabwe. After graduating college in the U.S. with a degree in music and psychology, she joined her parents in Alpena, because of terrorist warfare in her African home. Over the last 40 years, she has made Alpena her place of ministry.


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