“Toby Dog,” as I like to call my new puppy, accompanies me on a jog through our quiet residential neighborhood. During our jog, I’m groovin’ to my favorite iPod playlist when I notice a sleek, one-eyed bandit pull onto our street.
So, I wave the car down as Toby gives the driver a howdy growl.
“You probably know this already, but you have a headlight out,” I tell the driver.
“Oh,” he says rather puzzled. “My car didn’t tell me.”
And with that perplexing remark, Toby tilts his head as if to say, “Stupid car!”
Toby’s a smart dog, but he has no idea that the man is talking about his smart car features and not the reincarnation of K.I.T.T., the talking car from the twice-canceled television series “Knight Rider.”
While it seems pretty silly to be listening to a car for advice, the whole thing starts me wondering about the kinds of noises we have coming at us all day, like computers and television. What about the voices or sounds that can be heard when one is willing to really listen?
So, after dismissing the driver, I nix my playlist and ask God to help me hear the sounds his creation might have to share with me on this fall day.
At first, I hear plenty of sounds willing to mute the resonance of God’s world. My ears are partial to the hum of modernity. Overhead, an acrobatic plane traces the perimeter sky with the impatience of a raging motorcycle swirling inside a circus cage.
Not to be outdone, a nearby train track ushers in the roars of the undisputed king of the concrete jungle, the modern freight train.
Of course, in quiet suburbia, there are the chirping sounds of car alarms being disengaged and the accompanying thump of car stereos launching high schoolers into a tizzy.
As I tune out the efficient sounds of planes, trains and automobiles, I hear the voice of nature in debate.
The birds are especially active this morning. A cacophony of carousing crows erupts as they chide their neighbors for their trespasses. They fester fastidiously and pester insidiously. They want to perch in their own private tree wherever and with whomever they wish.
Local dogs join the crows with a similar tune of mischief and suspicion. A German shepherd rebukes my attempts to approach his fence. Toby and I try to make friends, but Shep won’t hear even a whisper of friendship.
As I find another path, however, I’m suddenly aware that the best sounds to be heard are the sounds of the Earth awakening to a chorus of life. These are the unheard sounds, which brings to mind the phrase made popular by Simon and Garfunkel’s, “The Sound of Silence.”
I “hear” the sun, well off the horizon, blasting through the trees and colliding with the leaves doused with morning dew.
On this trail, I’m even aware of the screeching of a stubborn moon as she slides off her evening sky hook and reluctantly gives up her celestial perch. Smack in front of me, I hear the maternal joy of a spider releasing her eggs attached to a silk parachute onto a rain-soaked lawn.
The sound of silence is something we miss way too often. Yet putting silence on our playlist is something crucial to our spiritual survival.
Perhaps the thought is best expressed in the words of the Psalmist, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the Earth.”